How Yoga Changes Your Brain
The benefits of yoga on your body and mind have been long known and while many initially doubted how a few stretching exercises can impact the brain, the mental effects of yoga are now backed by science. You see, the way your body moves and the activities you put your body through during the day triggers patterns of chemical impulses in your brain and also alters its chemical balance.
By changing your posture, relaxing muscles on your body/face and controlling your breathing you can modify the activity taking place in your brain.
Conscious breathing is a concept all yogis are familiar with. Breathing consciously allows people to access the subtle energy that lies within us. Yogis believe that through our methods of breathing we are able to connect with greater levels of consciousness. Spending time breathing consciously impacts our emotional, physical and mental state. When you feel down in the dumps, breathing consciously helps you silence the negativity and focus on the present. You’ll find some clarity and be able to concentrate on what is important.
Yoga may seem like a light workout but as you continue doing it and progress to difficult poses, you’ll definitely be breaking a sweat. Yoga isn’t easy, the poses require a lot of strength and you’ll be gasping for air. Even during the hardest poses, a good instructor will tell you to remain calm and focus on your breathing. With time, you’ll begin to see that it’s not necessarily the yoga poses that energize your brain. The ability to breathe and remain calm even during tough poses is what helps you maintain stress levels.
When you do yoga regularly, conscious breathing becomes habitual and you’ll be better able to cope during times of stress.Posture
Bad posture effects mental health in several ways. The uneven distribution of weight caused by bad posture leads to muscle soreness in your neck and back which causes you to feel fatigued and be more susceptible to stress. A study published in the Journal of Health Psychology discovered that participants that had bad posture suffered from low self-esteem and exhibited a negative outlook on life compared to their good-posture counterparts.
Yoga consists of numerous stretches and poses that will strengthen your muscles, allowing you to sit and stand upright. Even the breathing techniques in yoga require you to keep your back straight. Making yoga a regular part of your routine will help you fight stress as it improves your posture. Over time your spine will re-align, letting you once again stand tall and proud.
Rewiring your brain
Our brain has natural responses to pain and stress. We may experience different types of pain and stressful situations but the same regions of our brains light up and the same combinations of hormones are released into our system.
The human body has physiological responses to stress and physical discomfort too. Our heartbeat increases, we take shorter breaths, our muscles get tensed and cortisol levels along with other stress hormones increase. These reactions are natural but also habitual. We learn them as children and although we develop pain-tolerance as we age, our bodies still respond the same way. Here’s the good thing, you can actually rewire your brain so it is in a better position to manage stress – this is where yoga comes in.
How Yoga helps
Studies have proven that even just 20 minutes of yoga can improve your brain’s functionality. With regular yoga, the brain operates more effectively. You process information at a quicker rate, more accurately and are better able to absorb and retain it as well.
The meditative exercises in yoga demand that you concentrate on your breathing, posture and your body. Through regular yoga, you’ll gain a better awareness of your body, while toning and relaxing your muscles and learn to breathe consciously at the same time. This heightened awareness has a calming effect on your mind and allows you to sieve out distracting thoughts in your daily life.
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