We all know what yoga is.
It’s that stretchy, bendy thing that skinny girls do on the internet.
WRONG! Yoga is an art for all. It’s a way of connecting the dots within yourself from the mental plane to the physical plane.
This practice has an ancient origin and has its roots in deep spiritualism aimed at unifying the human being, body, mind and soul.
The physical application of yoga traditionally doesn’t stray away from the mental and spiritual side of things.
However, due to the rampant assimilation of eastern traditions into wholesale western culture and markets, the ethos behind yoga has been somewhat diluted.
Yoga is now perceived more for its physical values than ist wholesome benefits.
This doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the benefits of yoga as they were designed. You just need to understand what they are and separate the popular portrayal by internet contortionist and focus on the personal journey it is meant to be.
In this article, we’re going to look into yoga and its health benefits, especially when it comes to your brain.
We aren’t yoga experts, but anything with proven and essential benefits for your health is something we will share with you so you can at least decide for yourself.
And with that said, let’s stretch out some of the mental health benefits of yoga.
Your brain is one of the most, if not the most, energy-demanding organs in your body.
As such, oxygen, which is required in large amounts for metabolic energy output, is a huge resource demand for the brain.
Yoga, aside from providing a good way to increase range of motion, or flexibility, is also a great way to increase lung function and capacity.
With such a specific emphasis on breathing techniques, yoga allows practitioners to improve their range of breathing volume and efficiency.
This allows for a better oxygen uptake through the lungs and thus leads to more oxygen for the brain.
More oxygen for the brain means better brain function for a sharper, more focused mind.
Neuromuscular sounds like a complicated big word, but really, all it means is the relation between your brain and muscles.
Yoga stimulates your brain’s ability to harness your true biomechanical potential.
The strength and flexibility training undergone through yoga helps strengthen the mind, body connections that govern balance, stability, proprioception, spatial awareness, and coordination.
This is done in a process called motor unit recruitment. Your body is essentially switching on parts of your muscular physiology that were once dormant, in turn, this boosts brain activity to meet the new and improved functional demands.
Just as with most mindfully practiced physical activities, yoga has been shown to boost one’s mood and reduce stress.
The nature of activity involved in yoga is special because it tackles stress from a physical and emotional side.
That’s because yoga is as much a mental exercise as it is a physical one.
Meditation and mindfulness training are known for their health benefits in regards to stress relief and combating depression and anxiety.
Couple this with a physical activity that naturally boosts endorphin and serotonin levels and you have a winner!
It literally does!
Because you are learning and experiencing new stimuli, as well as needing to adapt to new ways of functioning, you are creating new neural links in the brain and nervous system.
This leads to the growth of new nerve tissue, which means the growth of the brain and its network.
Specific attention is drawn to how yoga stimulates growth in the hippocampus, the center of the brain responsible for memory and emotions.
In this way, you are tackling two essential aspects of mental function. Psychology and cognitive ability, thus optimizing them for a healthier you.
This boost in brain tissue also means there is a reduced risk in suffering from neurodegenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, even into later life.
Yoga is a discipline with graduating levels of proficiency. It is also a community with a hierarchy and support structures.
When you immerse yourself into such a unified community and disciplined skill, your growth within translates into a feeling of meaningfulness and accomplishment.
As you gain more skill, you gain more recognition both within yourself and from your community.
This makes you more confident and fulfilled, a big way to boost confidence and self-esteem!
While yoga has some amazing physical health and fitness benefits, its brain-boosting qualities are just as profound and essential.
The great thing is, when practiced correctly and as intended, the two aspects, mental and physical, go hand in hand.