We often heard it said that Yoga is the science of life.
One Swami has dedicated his life to making sure that science is fully backed up with research. Philip Stevens, a.k.a., Swami Samnyasananda, is an Australian-based consultant neurophysiologist who specializes in research on sleeping, breathing and pranayama.
Not only has he spent three or so decades working in the field of neuroscience, the Swami has also traveled the length and breadth of India interviewing people such as, Pathabhi Jois, BKS Iyengar, Kashtub Desikachar, Pilot Baba, Swami Niranjanananda, Dr. Bhole and others.
The Swami’s work explores the neurophysiological effects of certain yoga breathing and meditation practices on the heart, brain and autonomic nervous system.
His passion is understanding how the brain, nervous and hormonal systems work, particularly in terms of balancing autonomic activity of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems so that he can understand how the practices work, and how to get maximum benefits without exacerbating other problems.
A current research advisor for the Swan Research Institute (Australia), the Swami also teaches and tutors meditation and yoga at Monash Medical School (Dept of General Practice) and the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne.
Yes, this scientist and Swami is a seriously knowledgeable dude, which meant I had to talk to him.
So I did.
Down below is a half hour interview, broken into two parts (this interview originally appeared on The Yoga Lunchbox).
In the first part of this interview we talk about:
– His role as a Swami and as a neurophysiologist
– His discovery of, and journey with, yoga
– What is it like to be a man of science and of yoga?
– Breathing and the rhythms of the body
– The importance of knowledge in yoga
– how to find the right class for you
– The power of breathing with awareness
– Breath control
In the second part we talk about:
– The energetic process of breathing
– The difference between breath control and pranayama
– The difference between yoga and asana
– The power of conscious awareness
– Is pranayama dangerous?
– Swami Samnyasananda’s tour of the North Island, New Zealand
– The things everyone should know about breathing
– The importance of getting specific
Editor: Brianna Bemel