Yoga. What is it about yoga that people swear by? I have always wondered this, but it is only now that I have decided to do the research into why yoga is so great. One of the main reasons people choose to do yoga is for its stress-relieving benefits- something that did not surprise me because that is why I practice yoga and meditation. Research studies have found that a little yoga in the morning, at night, or even on a lunch break, can reduce stress and increase productivity significantly. It is believed that yoga is so effective for stress relief because, aside from the physical benefits that yoga brings, it encourages inner-peace, mindfulness, and a healthy dose of self-compassion.
Another reason that people practice yoga is to help their breathing technique and to improve their sleeping patterns. A big part of yoga is the breathing exercises–or the pranayama–which are incorporated into poses and also practiced on their own. These exercises encourage a focused and centered way of breathing that will provide effective stress- management and generally make you feel better the moment you feel under pressure, for example if you are going for a job interview. Doing these light breathing exercises right before bed or when you cannot sleep has also shown to improve sleeping patterns by reducing levels of anxiety and stress.
And what effect does yoga have on the human brain? Studies have found that a regular practice of yoga can be a kind of antidote, because it causes cortisol levels to drop, leading to less stress. In 2005, German researchers found that women who were dealing with mental illness said they felt less stress and less fatigue after three month of regular yoga classes.Yoga also increases cortical folding. It sounds weird and slightly disgusting, but cortical folding is a good thing. It is known in the medical community as gyrification, and it occurs in the cerebral cortex when you meditate and do yoga on a regular basis. The more cortical folds you’ve got, the better your neural processing is. You process information quicker, make clearer decisions, and your memory is sharper. Is that not amazing- yoga makes us smarter (haha)??? Overall, yoga is a great physical activity to practice because it not only benefits the human body, but the human mind as well. What more can you ask for?