I recently got into doing yoga. I find it very fun and relaxing. I want to know what the physical and mental benefits of yoga are. For those who don’t know, yoga is basically a combination of meditation and controlled breathing while holding certain poses.
According to the yoga journal, “each time you practice yoga, you take your joints through their full range of motion. This can help prevent degenerative arthritis or mitigate disability by “squeezing and soaking” areas of cartilage that normally aren’t used.” Additionally, yoga also helps blood circulation. “Twisting poses are thought to wring out venous blood from internal organs and allow oxygenated blood to flow in once the twist is released. Inverted poses, such as Headstand, Handstand, and Shoulderstand, encourage venous blood from the legs and pelvis to flow back to the heart where it can be pumped to the lungs to be freshly oxygenated.” This is extremely beneficial to people who have diabetes, anemia or nervous system disorders. I have Raynaud’s disease, which causes my hands and feet to get cold very easily and turn temporarily blue because of poor circulation. Since doing yoga I have notices that my hands and feet don’t get cold as easily.
Yoga surprisingly takes a lot of strength and concentration. During my first class my body was shaking as I was trying to hold the poses. It’s like all the weight of the universe is pushing down on your body. According to Gaiam life, every time to you hold a pose you are actually gaining muscle because “most poses are held for five full breaths versus the usual one to three breaths. Muscles are challenged as the mind and body have to work together simultaneously to hold a position or continue a succession without giving up.
Yoga is known to relieve feelings of stress and anxiety, but what causes the brain to respond that way? According to Yoga International, “The limbic system (in the brain) is comprised of structures related to memory and emotion, such as the hippocampus, amygdala, thalamus, and hypothalamus. A 2010 study found that subjects who meditated 30 minutes a day for eight weeks had a reduction of gray matter in the amygdala—which is linked to fear and anxiety—and an increase of gray matter in the hippocampus, which plays a vital role in memory formation.”
A randomized study was conducted by researchers of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. They tested the gamma-aminobutyric acid levels of yoga practicers versus walkers.
According to Alpha Brain Knowledge, “GABA receptors in the brain are responsible balancing the excitatory inputs. If the excitatory input is not in balance, this can lead to anxiety, sleeping disorders, irritability, lack of focus and concentration.”
The study revealed that “the 12-week yoga intervention was associated with greater improvements in mood and anxiety than a metabolically matched walking exercise.” This is due to increase GABA levels.
To conclude the practice of yoga is extremely beneficial both mentally and physically and can act as a natural medicine for aches and emotional problems. Yoga is a fun activity in general because it allows one to challenge themselves. There is always room for growth and yoga has no age limit! Below is a picture of me doing yoga. Also click here if you want to follow a beginners yoga video.