How Yoga Exercises Your Mind As Well As Your Body

Yoga benefits for the mind

Even simple physical yoga poses can have great benefits for your mind as well as your body…

Ancient Eastern yoga techniques incorporated 8 branches of practice – only one of which comprised the physical poses or “asanas.”

Modern Western forms of yoga have been criticized for neglecting the other branches and focusing solely (or mostly) on the physical (which really isn’t surprising, considering our culture’s fixation on physical over mental strength and well-being). However, even simply pursuing the physical aspects of yoga can have surprising benefits for the mind.

Even a regular Westernized yoga class can provide numerous mental and brain benefits, as mentioned in this article from Yogi Times:

While many begin yoga for its known benefits on strength and flexibility, the impact of a regular practice on the mind is gaining greater awareness, both scientifically and socially.

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Science tells us that the happy… neurotransmitters increase by 27% after a single class (1). Meaning? Yoga is not just calming, but also a mood-boosting activity.

Just 27 minutes of mindfulness per day which can be experienced through yoga actually shrinks the amygdala (the brain’s fight-or-flight center) and strengthens its connection to the pre-frontal cortex helping to calm the stress-response in triggering moments (2).

The breathing techniques in yoga activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms the stress response and promotes relaxation.

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Yoga encourages us to fully experience the present moment and let it go once it’s passed. For many students (myself included), this is a huge gift.

It can be easy to get stuck reliving and over-analyzing the past or creating undue anxiety around the future. Yoga helps to shift these habitual thought patterns– to create more ease and generate more positivity.

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With a regular practice, we can generate fundamental positive shifts in our life, discovering whole new worlds on the mat and in the mind.

Yoga was designed to be a whole-body practice – including your brain. By embracing a regular yoga practice – no matter what type of yoga you love – you can enjoy all of the physical and mental benefits it provides!

 

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