Yoga and the Mind: How Yoga Can Transform the Mind
10 October 2017
Yoga cultivates mental health and leads to calmness that no other form of therapy can offer.
We live in a chaotic world where people are always busy. In fact, our body and mind are in constant motion. Through sleep, we can give our body some rest, however, a regular night’s sleep is not enough for the mind. If you fall asleep while thinking about something, chances are you'll wake up feeling more tired⎯giving you a restless night instead of the rest you truly need.
It is for this reason that many people today seek the calmness provided by yoga. The ancient practice unifies the mind, body, and spirit. In doing so, it helps in the development of a stronger body. Moreover, it cultivates mental health and leads to calmness that no other form of therapy can offer.
The Science Behind Yoga
Consider this, when your mind is stressed, you feel your muscles are tense and chances are, you're experiencing negative thoughts and anxiety. People who often feel this way turn to external solutions to find relief, namely medication in the form of pills. However, Zuzu Perkal suggests that yoga can rewire the brain to act and think otherwise.
Perkal cites a study by postdoctoral researcher in neuroscience, Alex Korb, Ph.D. at UCLA, on the effects of yoga on stress and the brain. His study highlighted the typical physiological stress responses of a person:
- Increased heart rate due to anxiety, you feel your heart racing when you're stressed.
- Tensed muscles mean you're high strung due to stress.
- Increased levels of stress hormones like cortisol, with the elevated levels limiting the functionality of the immune system.
If you notice, these are the same issues addressed by yoga through its practice of relaxation, deep breathing, and mindfulness.
How Yoga Benefits Your Mind
Through regular Yoga practice, you can transform the way you think, act and feel. In doing so, you can improve your relationships with family, friends, and most of all, yourself.
- Deep breathing calms your nervous system. Therefore, you feel less anxious even when faced with a stressful situation.
- The relaxation practices of yoga help lower your blood pressure and heart rate according to Examined Existence. As a result, you feel less inclined to reach out for medication to deal with the stressor.
- Relaxation and deep breathing help relieve worries as it focuses your attention on your body and breath. As you practice the poses and exercises, you're freeing yourself from any negative element invading your thoughts.
- Practicing yoga can also improve your memory and concentration. It clears your thoughts by removing static noise.
Through the practice of yoga, you become more aware of yourself and your body, meaning that it teaches you how to value your self-worth.
- Your greater self-awareness leads you to become more conscious of how food affects your body. As a result, your choices become healthier. As yoga teaches you the importance of self-worth, you make better decisions without harming yourself.
- According to the Yoga Journal, the different yoga poses enable you to learn more about yourself⎯in particular, where you hold on to negative emotions. For instance, the backbend can help provide emotional release as it releases the stiffness in your shoulder blades. At the same time, it opens your heart.
- When practicing warrior pose, you learn to rise. Moreover, it teaches you to do your best. The same principle applies to dealing with any issues you're holding on⎯rather than avoid them or pass the blame onto someone else, yoga encourages you to take control and own up to it.
- Remember, you can't always change others or the issues you don't like. However, you can alter the way you react to them. Through yoga, you become in control. Through a regular practice, you find that no person or event has control over you.
The confidence you gain allows you to be more appreciative of others by practicing empathy and acceptance.
The experts at Get Healthy Lab know that negativity is harmful to your mind and body. It's not only damaging to yourself, but it also affects your relationships with the people you love. By practicing yoga, you can minimize the negative thoughts giving you stress, anxiety, and pain. As a result, you rediscover your self-worth and become grateful for the world around you.