How does yoga affect your mental health?
Have you noticed how good you feel mentally while doing it? Yoga is a lifestyle. Yoga helps us to work with our body, the nature of the mind, which is the essence of being human, and helps us to be aware of how emotions live in our bodies and affect us physically, thus affecting our behavior and mind.
Yoga sharpens our intellect and provides us with tools to truly help the body and mind heal.
Asana, Pranayama and meditation practices have a powerful effect on our nervous system.
It activates the rest-and-digest mode, from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system, or from fight-or-flight mode.
Especially in the pandemic environment we are in, we are constantly in flight or fight mode, which raises the level of cortisol in our body and we are never really in a state of complete relaxation. As soon as you start breathing deeply, you calm your nervous system.
As an exercise, it naturally produces serotonin, sometimes called the happy chemical, as it contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness.
Serotonin in the brain is a natural mood stabilizer and has been associated with helping regulate anxiety and stress.
Yoga makes you smarter and improves your overall cognitive ability
When you lift weights, your muscles get stronger and bigger. When you do yoga, your brain cells develop new connections and changes occur in brain structure as well as function, resulting in improved cognitive skills such as learning and memory.
Yoga strengthens parts of the brain that play a key role in memory, attention, awareness, thought, and language. Think of it like lifting weights for the brain.
According to research done and published in the Harvard Medical Review, the use of MRI scans and other brain imaging technologies has proven that people who practice yoga regularly have a thicker cerebral cortex (the area of the brain responsible for processing information) and the hippocampus (area).
These areas of the brain typically shrink as we age, but older yoga practitioners showed less shrinkage than non-yoga practitioners.
This suggests that yoga may prevent age-related declines in memory and other cognitive skills.
Meditation also reduces activity in the limbic system, the part of the brain dedicated to emotions. As your emotional reactivity decreases, you have a more thoughtful response when faced with stressful situations. Research also shows that yoga and meditation can improve executive functions such as reasoning, decision making, memory, learning, reaction time, and accuracy in tests of mental ability.
Yoga helps improve your self-esteem and sense of self, thus making you a happier, calmer person.