It turns out yogas big impact may be in dealing with chronic stress. Numerous studies show how yoga can help relieve anxiety, depression and even insomnia. Why you may wonder? Well, yoga is is associated with a reduction of the stress hormone, cortisol.
Your Antidote to Stress
Think of cortisol as nature's built-in alarm system. By the sound of it, we don't want it to be running when unnecessary! Essentially, cortisol is your body's main stress hormone and interacts with certain parts of the brain to control mood, motivation and fear. Cortisol is probably best known to people for its purpose of fuelling the body's flight-or-flight instinct when we are in danger.
Stress is a fertile state of being where physical and mental conditions and illnesses flourish. We don't want it more than absolute necessary - but it isn't easy to flow through life with only zen vibes given all external clutter and our busy modern lifestyles.
Yoga is your antidote to stress. A study found that exercises like yoga that works both mind and body decrease inflammations in the body that have emerged due to periods of sustained stress. In general yoga improves your mood and emotional regulation. At MANTLE we believe it is the highest expression of self-care to show some love for yourself by treating and honouring your mind and body.
Reset Your Mind
Post yoga class, no doubt you feel better from head to toe. Your muscles are more relaxed yet you feel stronger, you are calmer yet more clearheaded and aware. The conscious process of deep breathing and meditation that occurs in yoga may work on the HPA axis which controls the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), a.k.a. the fight or flight response. The breathing also impacts the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which tells you when it's time to chill out.
By reducing the sympathetic system and increasing the processes of the parasympathetic systems, yoga decreases heart rate and blood pressure. When your body calms down it then signals to the mind that all is well. One of the purposes of yoga is to practice becoming calm and alert.
Boost Your Brain
What's really going on inside your brain after a few downward-facing dog postures and sun salutations? Research suggests yoga can alter your brain in beneficial ways. Although it's nice to be a zen zombie sometimes, we still need to be alert and function in everyday life.
This is why yoga may be a sustainable practice to create balance in your life. The most significant impact yoga has had for us is how it can make us calm and collected - achieving a healthy balance between the SNS and PNS. Yoga can help us teach the brain to use the SNS when it needs clarity and focus but without activating the fight or flight response.
It's like giving your brain superpowers!
As if this wasn't enough research finds that yoga prevents the brain from aging and may even reverse the cognitive impairment. One study found that yoga practitioners improved theirs brain's executive functioning and emotional resilience compared to a control group.
One Yoga Class is Enough
The best thing is that you can tap into all benefits with just one yoga class. Obviously, practicing yoga continuously improves stress levels significantly in the long run.
Here are a two online sessions for you to get started:
Click here for 20 minutes of Full Body Flow.
Or here for Yoga to Heal Stress - 20 minutes.
Did we mention that we love Yoga with Adriene!? Check the rest of her online practices on her Youtube Channel.
What are you waiting for? Get into some comfy clothes, grab a mat and go!