Despite its many physical forms, yoga should never be taken for anything less than what it truly is- a holistic health practice. That is, it benefits every aspect of human well-being, including the physical, mental, and even spiritual.
While many people associate yoga with supple limbs, physical fitness, stamina, and agility, few know of its many psychological benefits. If you practice yoga, you’re already familiar with the feeling of muscle relaxation and increased strength that comes immediately after a session. You’ve also had that feeling of mental clarity; this is where yoga’s impact on your mental faculties comes in.
You feel relaxed and alert
Any of yoga’s deep breathing exercises can particularly help to relax your muscles and calm your senses. Simultaneously, it improves your responses and reactions, boosting physical and mental alertness.
Scientific research has shown that yoga meditation and deep breathing exercises act upon the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The former is responsible for the body’s fight or flight response, which makes one mentally alert to cause quick reactions to external stimuli. On the other hand, the latter (parasympathetic nervous system) tells your body to relax. Yoga exercises are thus highly beneficial to the brain, as it helps you relax better without compromising mental alertness when the body needs it.
Scientific research demonstrates that yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises positively affect parts of the brain like the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and cingulate cortex, regions responsible for information processing and memory.
Evidence shows that people who regularly practice yoga have a thicker cerebral cortex and hippocampus than non-practitioners, indicating that yoga adherents have impressive attention, awareness, thought, and language processing and improved memory.
Yoga fights the brain's natural degeneration over time
Many older adults tend to experience brain degeneration over time. Some of the eventual problems include reduced awareness, dementia, and other neurodegenerative conditions. While these conditions stem from various factors, they’re one and all the expectations in old age.
However, a scientific review by the National Institutes of Health has shown that yoga practice can help to mitigate against age-linked and neurodegenerative conditions. This is because the brain regions that yoga practices stimulate, such as the hippocampus and the larger right insula, are the same areas that are most prone to age-related atrophy.
It helps to tone down stress
Stress and anxiety are closely linked to many mental ailments. Something as seemingly simple as anxiety, if experienced for too long, can negatively impact the brain and make it more challenging to relax and concentrate on tasks.
Scientific research has shown that yoga can help improve emotional and mood regulation, which are both linked with reductions in cortisol, the body’s stress hormone.
Sharpen your brain by joining our yoga class today
While there’s much to be said about yoga’s physical benefits, incorporating it into your everyday routine significantly impacts the brain’s processes and functionality. Join us at Shift Yoga Studio today to stay mentally alert and stave off brain-related ailments.