The Science Behind Yoga & The Mind
So we know that Yoga is good for our bodies one way or another but do we understand how it affects the mind and what the mental benefits of yoga really are? Have you ever been to a yoga class and wondered why exactly your are putting your body in a certain position or balancing on one leg? I hope to bring some science backed answers to some of this in this blog using references from Science of Yoga - Ann Swanson (annswansonwellness.com).
Yoga offers an 8 limb structure giving the practice a multidimensional and holistic approach. The brain throughout life develops neural connections and becomes conditioned based on experiences and choices. Therefore the more you practice certain thought patterns and physical activities the more these networks in the brain are created. Just the same way exercise affects your muscles your brain tissue adapts depending on how stimulated it is and how many connections are being formed.
The most effective way to stimulate and shape your brain is through behavioral changes that are encouraged through yoga practice. So without using too much science terminology here a key part of our brains (the frontal cortex) is proven scientifically to be strengthened from yoga and mindfulness practice helping you to not only recognise but regulate emotions. I know that I personally can 100 percent vouch for the fact that yoga has benefited me with emotional regulation and use it daily to regulate myself emotionally and physically.
Yoga practice has been proven to lower the cortisol levels (stress hormone) in your brain which can help improve your memory and neural connections as mentioned above. It's also been proven that yoga helps reduce amygdala volume on the brain which is usually associated to negative emotions and fear.
Finally researchers believe that somatic practices (movement practices that emphasise perception) such as yoga are useful for helping people to process trauma without re-triggering because they help us to release tension in the body.
I hope you've found the information in this blog as interesting as I do. The science and studies behind yoga and meditation only become more and more fascinating as we discover the depths of what this practice can really offer and this blog today only really touches the surface of the studies and science that's out there.
To discuss your practice or if you are interested in beginning your yoga journey and want to find out more about yoga in Peacehaven or yoga online then please don't hesitate to get in touch.
Surviving Or Thriving ?
As part of my path with yoga alongside reading and research that I've done over the years I've come across many times the idea that many of us live in a survival mode for most or part of our lives rather than allowing ourselves to thrive.
I've certainly lived in survival mode before, I'm sure I still do in certain ways and it's a natural part of life. But if we are looking to really thrive, we can start to observe perhaps that the survival mode is attached to an internal belief system as well as the physical reality of feeling the need to survive in the modern world including getting through each day, watching the clock and always looking to the next thing , the next action, the next task.
So what does it mean to thrive within yourself and in your life. Self care, self love and awareness are some of the key ingredients for this. In order to thrive and take yourself away from survival mode you need to become intentional with yourself, your choices and your life. Start to get to know yourself, your passions, your boundaries and prioritise your overall health and well-being. Create space to do this and act on your thoughts and ideas, it all starts with you.
Some tips for making self care a top priority are as follows :
- Learn a self regulating technique (such as yoga, breath work, meditation or whatever works for you!)
- Create space and time for daily reflection and healing where needed
-Accept that change is inevitable, understand what you can and can't control
-Create strong boundaries and get used to saying 'No' sometimes, be protective of your energy and where it's spent
-Do activities that make you feel alive
-Surround yourself with a positive support network whether that's family, friends or other
Take a look at my website to see my yoga classes, online and in person in Peacehaven. During my practices we look at overall well-being and self care in a physical, emotional and mental sense.
Director- Thankful Flow Yoga
I have a background of over 7 years experience in Recruitment and Sales prior to qualifying and starting my yoga business Thankful Flow Yoga. I am passionate about health and well-being especially in the workplace and look to create a safe space whether it be in person or via zoom where you can unwind whilst building strength and mobility in the body as well as experiencing the vast mental benefits of yoga practice.