Why do you exercise or sign up for yoga classes? For many of us, we turn to yoga to help burn off a few extra calories or to generally improve our physical health. While those are very worthy causes, yoga also provides us with some surprising psychological benefits.
Regardless of our athletic ability, age, gender, hair color, or race, yoga has the ability to impact our mental health in some unbelievable ways.
In recent years, yoga has been increasingly used by practitioners to tone and tighten our physiques. However, for centuries yoga was used to boost our psyches and help us find inner truths. Listed below is a sampling of the psychological benefits provided by yoga:
1. Yoga reduces stress
Yoga was originally created to enable people to find their centers and develop the spirit through breathing and stretching practices to become more conscious of our inner nature. The rhythmic and methodical exercises are perfect for calming an anxious body and mind, especially when we focus on deep breathing. This aspect of yoga can help reduce levels of cortisol, which is beneficial, because high levels of this “fight or flight” hormone can negatively impact our moods, weight, immune systems, and susceptibility to chronic diseases. So go ahead and take that deep breath, hold, and exhale away all that built up tension in your body.
2. Yoga allows for introspective thinking
People often joke that they do their best thinking while doing the dishes, mowing the lawn, or folding laundry. There is some truth to their comments, because these tasks allow our mindset to focus on our “thinking” system not on our actions. As you move through poses and the rhythmic breathing of your daily yoga routine, you are also allowing yourself time to self reflect and achieve greater clarity. This mental down time allows us the opportunity to clear our minds for sustained focus on our lives, habits, patterns, pasts, and futures. A few minutes of a quiet mind can easily reduce our agitation and frustration levels, helping us learn something new about ourselves in the process.
3. Yoga releases endorphins
Yoga and other exercises enable our bodies to produce “feel good” chemicals that are natural painkillers and depression fighters. Many experts and doctors recommend using physical activities, such as yoga, to boost moods and increase overall feelings of happiness. Setting aside time to focus on our bodies will surprisingly help us stay in a good mood all day long.
4. Yoga boosts our confidence
One of the obvious benefits of yoga is how our bodies respond to our efforts. Over time, our bodies become stronger, more flexible, and able to endure longer sessions. It doesn’t matter whether we are still mastering beginner poses or attempting more difficult poses, we are tightening our cores and gaining confidence in our personal abilities. It is reassuring to finally overcome our physical and mental limitations.
5. Yoga can lead to a better night’s sleep.
It’s no secret that many adults are sleep deprived. In fact, one in three of us aren’t getting an adequate amount of shut eye every night. Unfortunately, researchers are finding a strong correlation between sleep problems and elevated risks for some common mental health problems. Experts are finding that a good night’s sleep can boost mental and emotional resilience. Practicing yoga is one way we can improve our quality of sleep. One study found that 150 minutes of exercise or vigorous activity a week was enough to improve a person’s sleep patterns. As an added benefit, people reported feeling more energetic and less sleepy during the day!
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What psychological benefits do you receive from yoga? Share your thoughts in the comments box below!
This post was written by Cassie Brewer, a make up professional in Southern California. In her free time, she enjoys writing about her passion (make up of course!) and everything beauty related. Nothing makes her happier than helping others be the best version of themselves they can be. You can read more at cassiebrewer.weebly.com and follow her on twitter @Cassiembrewer