Feel Good Fitness Tips

Benefits of Yoga: Your Body and Brain on Yoga

Are you performing a balancing act like an elephant on a stability ball? Juggling all the demands of life while striving for some element of grace, yet on the total verge of crashing down at any given moment?

You work all day making money for someone else, attend to your family’s needs, then you attempt to turn your worried brain off and hope for a solid five hours of sleep before doing it all over again.

Have you lost your balance in life?

We have become an age submitted to paradox. We bow before technology, because it’s necessary for our survival, but also equally detrimental to our bodies and our minds if it consumes our daily lives.

If life has you feeling like a wobbly elephant trying to keep its balance on a ball, I’m going to let you in on a little secret, there’s a solution to keeping your balance and it’s so simple; yoga.

The truth of the matter is you will always deal with stress and anxiety in one form or another. The trick is finding a healthy coping mechanism, like yoga to keep your stress balanced. Rather than feeling frazzled, you should feel challenged. Are you coping with your stress?  

I hear all too often, “I’m not flexible enough to do yoga.” But guess what? Flexibility isn’t a prerequisite of yoga, it is a consequence of it. It’s not about touching your toes, it’s what you learn in the process.

For all you new yogis out there, you will soon learn that you don’t “do” yoga, you practice yoga. It’s a lifelong practice that has to begin somewhere no matter how inflexible you feel right now.

Yoga has been practiced for centuries and there are many reasons why. The benefits are endless.

The Stressed Out Brain

Recall back to those restless nights when you can’t turn your mind off. Stress and anxiety cause you to breathe irregularly. When this happens, your brain orders your body to go into the fight-or-flight mode as a way of responding to this crisis.

Your body then releases a hormone into your bloodstream called cortisol. Whenever you are stressed or anxious your body is exposed to a steady release of cortisol, and like anything in life, too much cortisol can harm your body. The fight-or-flight response also pushes the importance of your metabolism on the back burner, which may explain that stubborn fat around your midriff.

Countless studies have found a strong relationship between stress and fibromyalgia, among other serious illnesses. Without an effective coping strategy like yoga, your ability to deal with stress may never be managed. Through the practice of yoga you can learn how to calm your anxious mind, and with that comes peace and balance.

What Exactly Is Yoga?

Yoga means union. Union of the body and mind. Union of the breath and body to create a meditation. Yoga is a discipline that teaches the practitioner how to slow their thoughts down to allow for blissful inner peace. Equally as important, it relieves tension in the body, which can be the root of a lot of mental and emotional pain.

Yoga emphasizes the importance of meditation to relieve stress. This meditation is achieved by combining breath, yoga postures, and gaze as a flow to create a moving meditation.

The Benefits of Yoga on Your Body

the benefits of yoga on the body

Each yoga posture is specifically designed to realign your body’s skeletal frame.

When practiced at least 2 times a week for 60 minutes, the practitioner will begin to see beneficial changes in musculoskeletal fitness.

Common benefits of yoga range from weight loss to promoting better sleep, and much much more. One study found that an eight-week “hot yoga” intervention even improved glucose tolerance in older people suffering from obesity.

Alignment is key to your yoga practice and all the benefits that come with it. When you align the body there is a domino effect. First, your nervous and circulatory systems will begin to work efficiently.

When your sympathetic nervous system is working efficiently, metabolism will work effortlessly, correcting all the damage stress has caused on your waistline.

Practicing yoga while pregnant also has many benefits for you and your baby. It improves sleep, reduces stress and anxiety, increases strength, flexibility, and endurance of muscles needed for childbirth, decreases lower back pain, nausea, headaches, and shortness of breath. Prenatal yoga might also help you prepare for labor and promote your baby’s health.

Did you know yoga has been proven to reduce stress and promote sleep, especially in postmenopausal women too?

The Benefits of Yoga on Your Brain

Alissa yoga in woods

Yoga practitioners feel good after yoga because it actually reduces cortisol levels released as a byproduct of stress. Yoga meditation can even alter the biochemistry of the brain more efficiently than regular exercise. Too good to be true?

One study involving 92 pregnant women who were attending social support groups for depression found that 12 weeks of yoga significantly reduced depression, anxiety, and anger than compared to support groups.

Another study focusing on women battling breast cancer also found yoga to be beneficial in improving emotional outcomes and fatigue during that stressful time.

Finding Your Balance Through Your Practice

The bottom line is yoga makes you happy and healthy, so be flexible and try it, (pun intended) because the benefits of yoga are endless and can only be discovered when you’re willing to step out of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to try many different styles of yoga to find what works best for you.

Remember, it’s not about touching your toes, it’s about what you learn on your way down.

I have been practicing and teaching yoga for several years, and in my opinion is any yoga is good yoga. Whether you’re practicing at home, a gym, or a studio, what matters is you’re developing your practice.

I love following other teachers online. I learn so much, and I know you will too. Here’s a great video that can be done in the zen of your own home!

Give your achy back and weary mind a rest. Yoga will help you find your balance in life. It’s not too good to be true and it will give you the peace you seek.

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Nicole Wilder

Nicole Wilder

Nicole Wilder

As a proud mother to three busy little boys, I specialize in helping women look and feel their healthiest. I love a good workout session. I enjoy exploring the beautiful PNW where I live and spending time with my family.

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