In recent years, the popularity of yoga has continued to rise. In fact, the number of Americans who practice yoga increased by 50% between 2012 and 2016. In Western culture, yoga classes are seen as a way to tone the body, gain flexibility and balance and even lose weight. But traditionally, many of the benefits of yoga extend beyond the physical.
Historically, the purpose of practicing yoga was to achieve harmony between the body, mind and spirit, as well as with the environment. Meditation is a major component of yoga, but it’s often overshadowed by the fitness component of this discipline. To reap all of the benefits of yoga, it’s important to focus on both the physical and the mental aspects of the practice.
A talented, reputable yoga studio can allow you to do just that. Before you walk in with your mat, here’s more information on the mental or psychological advantages of participating in this practice.
Yoga Can Relieve Stress and Anxiety
You’ve probably heard others in the yoga community talk about the stress relief this practice provides. Of course, exercise releases endorphins – and that helps you to feel happier. When doing yoga, your body will also release chemicals like dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin. Those feel-good hormones can go a long way in relieving mental tension.
By focusing on your breath and a series of poses, you can actually soothe your own worries. Data compiled by Harvard Medical School suggests that the unique components of yoga can modulate the body’s stress response systems and even help you respond more effectively to stress. Therefore, it’s seen as a helpful activity for people with anxiety or who deal with a lot of stress.
Yoga May Improve Cognitive Function
Did you know that yoga might actually make you smarter? Studies have found that regular yoga practice can actually improve the connection between the brain cells as a neurotransmitter known as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Increasing those cell connections can improve cognitive function, memory and concentration. A big part of yoga is learning how to clear out all distractions and mentally focus; this regular discipline can allow you to recall important details and concentrate more effectively overall. You’ll probably find you’re more productive at work and more present in your personal life, too!
Yoga Might Combat Depression and Trauma
One of the many benefits of yoga is that, in some cases, it can be used in conjunction with (or as an alternative to) other mental health treatments to improve overall quality of life. The regulation of the stress response system may have a significant impact on those who are struggling with depression. There’s also evidence to suggest that people with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may benefit from practicing yoga. In certain cases where traditional treatment methods have failed, the American Psychological Association notes that some types of yoga have been effective in reducing PTSD symptoms.
Whether you’ve been experiencing high levels of stress at work or you simply want to improve your cognitive abilities, you can benefit from making yoga part of your routine. To learn more about our classes and discover which ones may be right for you, please contact SyteraYoga today.