03. August 2020 · Comments Off on Why Yoga Is So Damn Good For Your Brain · Categories: Yoga wisdom · Tags: , , ,

Why Yoga Is So Damn Good For Your Brain

The Obvious One: Yoga Is An Anti-Ageing Recipe For Your Bod

Freedom of movement keeps you feeling young! Much of the juicy goodness of yoga comes from basic increased flexibility of muscles and loosening of connective tissue around the joints – and you can get that from a really simple practice. 

As your practice deepens, you start to build strength, further increase range of movement and get better at balancing. A steady yoga routine has been proven to decrease rates of arthritis, chronic pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, back pain, increase blood flow to the heart and so much more. Moving your joints through their full range of motion helps prevent degeneration and stiffness as well as feeling great. 

When your body is happy, your brain is happy too. Less pain = less mental health diagnoses, fewer headaches and a generally more positive and calm state of being. 

The Less Obvious One: Yoga Has A Positive Impact On Brain Health

Recent studies on yoga and its effects on the brain show that a regular practice increases brain matter density. Grey matter makes up about 40% of your brain and is responsible for many high level functions including memory, self awareness, learning, control of your five senses and muscle control. The more grey matter you have in certain parts of your brain, the better those areas perform. In particular, yoga increases grey matter density in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. When these areas of your brain perform better, you have better:

  • Emotional and impulse control
  • Focus and concentration
  • Decision making
  • Self control
  • Better evaluation of rewards and consequences

Get on your mat and start growing your grey/pink brain matter my friends.

The One You Know: Yoga Decreases Stress Levels And Reduces Anxiety

The more present – in the moment – you are, the less time you have to worry about things outside your control. In yoga you’re actually training your brain to get better at riding the wave when things get hard or stressful.

When you have to breathe through that tough pose without falling over – and you get better at breathing through that hard pose – you begin to activate and strengthen the part of your brain that replaces anxiety or inability to cope with rational thought. You strengthen the neural pathways that your brain needs to stop your boat from rocking in the crazy ocean of life and have an easier time sailing through. Yoga can literally retrain your brain!

And perceived relation (that ahhh feeling you get in yoga) leads to physiological relaxation, reducing your heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate. 

The One We Like: Yoga Makes You Calm And Happy

The mind-body connection we create in yoga through breath work, posture and movement is like a little happy pill for your brain. 

This calm combo inhibits a part of your brain known as the hypothalamus from acting in an overreactive manner- this inhibition optimises your body’s response to stressful stimuli. The areas in your brain that are responsible for fear, aggression and rage are all inhibited too. AND the pleasure centre and other areas in your brain responsible for bliss (think big releases of the hormones dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins!) get turned on. Again these responses lead to lowered heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate – giving your heart and body a great rest from the work it does all day. The infusion of the positive hormones as mentioned above are the same “happy hormones” that can help battle depression. 

Now you know what’s happening beneath all of those Down Dogs!!

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