New review evaluates architecture as a way to promote health and wellbeing

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A new comprehensive review evaluates the impact of an ancient type of architecture and city planning on holistic health.

The review, published in the journal, Global Advances in Health and Medicine, assessed 40 years of published studies on the impact of Maharishi Vastu architecture (MVA). MVA is the recent revival of an ancient architectural system from South Asia. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of the Transcendental Meditation organization, systematically integrated more than 20 principles into a uniquely comprehensive building system.

According to the study, MVA’s principles include development of the architect’s consciousness, universal recommendations for building orientation, siting, and dimensions; placement of key functions; and occupants’ head direction when sleeping or performing tasks.

The review sought to evaluate the evidence for whether MVA can advance systems medicine by managing the built environment to promote health and prevent disease. According to the study’s authors, the literature of MVA is in response to the need for an architectural system that improves wellbeing, including mental and physical health.

According to the review, some of the MVA principles include:

  • The building’s main entrance is oriented to the east or north.
  • The building’s walls align with the cardinal directions.
  • The floor plan assigns key functions to specific locations within the building.
  • The floor plan enables occupants to face the most ideal directions during work and sleep.
  • In keeping with the idea of providing a healthy environment, the system emphasizes non-toxic, natural materials, increased fresh air, and reduced electromagnetic radiation.

“Modern medicine now recognizes the powerful effects of the envirome' on health,” said study co-author, Robert Schneider, MD, FACC, and dean of the College of Integrative Medicine at Maharishi International University in a statement. “The envirome includes all the natural and man-made elements of our environment throughout the lifespan, notably the built environment. This review of the science suggests that buildings constructed according to principles of Maharishi Vastu architecture function as positive elements in the envirome to enhance mental and physical health and well-being. Further advances in neuroscience offer plausible physiological explanations for these effects.”