Paramahansa Yogananda’s first speech in America, which he delivered in 1920 to the International Congress of Religious Liberals in Boston, was entitled The Science of Religion. Like many Hindus, Yogananda considered Yoga to be a scientific practice – a series of precise techniques that were repeatable and produced measurable results. The yogi would use his own body as a living laboratory, testing the techniques and evaluating changes to his consciousness.
Yogananda was decades ahead of Western scientists in discussing the idea of neuroplasticity (though he did not use that word). He said: “Repeated performance of an action creates a mental blueprint, causing the formation of subtle electrical pathways in the brain, somewhat like the grooves in a phonograph record.” Regular practice of Kriya Yoga, according to Yogananda’s teachings, could effectively create new pathways and rewire the brain to create beneficial changes in one’s life.
This concept has been proven in numerous clinical trials including studies by Dr. Andrew Newberg of Thomas Jefferson University who was among the notable scientists, physicians, and cutting-edge researchers interviewed for AWAKE, including author and mind/body health pioneer Deepak Chopra, and Harvard Physicist and Physician Dr. Anita Goël, who said: “The writings of Yogananda are very appealing to a scientific appetite. He was committed to bringing together the technology and the material efficiency and the scientific understanding of the West, with the ancient spiritual wisdom of the East, and creating a unified framework and an integrated approach to living life on this planet.”