Video and Audio

Pranayama: The Art and Science of Energy Control

Nayaswami Gyandev
September 29, 2017

A deeper understanding of meditation: what actually happens physiologically, neurologically, metabolically, genetically, energetically, and quantum physically.

For literally thousands of years great spiritual teachers of all religions have proclaimed that meditation is the way to optimal health of body, mind, and soul. These ‘anecdotal’ reports were not sufficient for the scientists, and questions regarding meditation went unanswered.

For the past 15 years or so the medical profession itself, along with great scientists in many areas, have been asking questions regarding meditation and its possible use as a treatment modality for various conditions.

Now, scientific evidence from well-designed studies—including images of the brain—is emerging. Some of these studies suggest that meditating for as little as 20 minutes daily can affect the function and structure of the brain in a positive way and that meditating for even short periods daily can have profound effects on many and varied medical and psychiatric conditions.

Who do you want to be in 6 months? Whether we intend to or not we will be different six months from now. Your brain and body constantly change over time and we understand now that we can influence how we will develop. Since the early 1980s the scientific community has understood that the brain is incredibly plastic and re-programmable. Since then, there has been a broader understanding that significant permanent personal transformation is a real possibility.

Meditation and spiritual practices have been extensively studied and have been proven to bring about specific significant changes in the brain and body, some of which are permanent. We will review how brain structure and function are changed by meditation practices over time. We will discuss the specific parts of the brain that are transformed in this process. Much has been discerned about different types of meditation and their effects on the nervous system as well as the amount one needs to meditate to bring about significant changes in brain and behavior.

We will also review the new science of epigenetics and how our genetic material can be modified by meditation and lifestyle. This transformed genetic material can be passed on to our offspring in this new state. Lastly we will look at our recent understanding of the interplay between the body’s microbiome and our nervous system function and how spiritual practices may affect this.

Nayaswami Gyandev McCord
Nayaswami Gyandev has taught all aspects of Yoga in the tradition of Paramhansa Yogananda since 1983. He currently serves as Director of Ananda Yoga® worldwide, directs the Ananda Yoga Teacher Training programs, and co-directs the Ananda Meditation Teacher Training program. All of this happens through the Ananda School of Yoga & Meditation, located at The Expanding Light, Ananda’s retreat center near Nevada City, California ( He also teaches throughout the U.S. as well as in Canada, India and Europe. He has been a disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda for more than 35 years, and he is an ordained Ananda minister.

Gyandev’s books include Spiritual Yoga: Awakening to Higher Awareness and, as co-author with Dr. Peter Van Houten, Yoga Therapy for Headache Relief and Yoga Therapy for Overcoming Insomnia. He has created the 12 volumes (48 classes) of The Ananda Yoga Series on DVD—the first five volumes are now available—plus two separate yoga videos (Yoga to Awaken the Chakras and Yoga for Busy People) and five CD/MP3s (Pranayama for Deeper Meditation, Magnetize Your Life, Ease into Sleep, Connect with Spirit, and Dance of Divinity). His articles have been published in LA Yoga, Inspired Wellbeing, Clarity, Yoga in America, and Yoga for Everybody.

A co-founder of Yoga Alliance (the organization that sets training standards for yoga teachers in the USA), Gyandev served on Yoga Alliance’s board of directors for 17 years. He currently serves on Yoga Alliance’s Advisory Council and Standards Committee.

Gyandev and his wife, Diksha, live at Ananda Village, a Northern California community of disciples of Paramhansa Yogananda. Both teach full-time at The Expanding Light retreat. They also lead Ananda Spiritual Travels experiences in India, Israel, Costa Rica, and Hawaii. Their personal website is

Gyandev received a B.A. in Mathematics from Carleton College and M.S./Ph.D. in Operations Research (applied mathematics) from Stanford University. After graduate school, he worked as a management consultant with clients from both business and government, before moving to Ananda Village, which has been his home since 1984.