It’s no secret that yoga is great for your body. It helps build strength, flexibility and overall body awareness. However, did you know yoga is also has powerful benefits for your brain?
Here are just a few of the ways doing yoga benefits your brain and why!
1. Stay in the Present
The practice of yoga, is really the practice of being present on the mat. Yoga has the power the bring back into the present, a mind that is off in the future trying to plan dinner for the rest of the week or worrying about an important phone call with your boss.
By learning to be present during your yoga practice, you’re actually retraining your brain. You’re teaching it to stop worrying about the future and to concentrate instead on the present more in life. This results in less stress and an increased ability to think things through logically instead of defaulting to your typical stress reactions. Presence is powerful, can help our minds recognize the present moment.
2. Learn to Chill Out …
As you might expect, your body and brain are always talking to one another. They take cues from each other and work in tandem to help you get through your day in one piece.
This works in your favor when it comes to something like yoga. Yoga is all about relaxing the body, stretching it, strengthening it, and finding peace with it. Because yoga relaxes your body, your brain gets the message and it relaxes as well. This helps your brain to be less anxious and more calm.
The feeling you get after savasana, is a calm that isn't only physical, but also profoundly mental. It is an example of your mind being so relaxed, because of the powerful work of your body did.
3. … But Also Stay Alert
Of course, it isn’t always practical to be calm and relaxed though! There are plenty of situations in life that require extreme concentration and alertness. If we went through our entire lives in a state of perfect calm, we’d never be equipped to handle these moments.
Yoga is the perfect training for your brain in this area, to stay sharp. While yoga encourages a relaxed and peaceful mindset, it also demands intense focus and precision. After all, you can’t master difficult poses without learning to concentrate. The great strength of yoga is that it teaches us to focus and work hard without entering a stressed mindset.
Too often in the real world, difficult situations trigger our fight or flight reflexes. Through yoga training, we learn that not every challenge requires a panicked stress response. Instead, we learn to work and focus without ever entering a state of alarm.
4. Age with Grace
Yoga helps your body stay limber and strong, but it can also help your brain stay young as well. Studies have shown that after exercises in mindfulness and meditation, your brain experiences lots of benefits. Memory is shown to have improved, as well as executive functions, increased emotional resilience and a decrease in depression symptoms.
In fact, after just eight weeks of meditation practice, studies have shown increased gray matter development in the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain most associated with memory and learning.
5. Even Improvement to Your Eyesight
Did you know that yoga isn’t just for your body and mind? You can also do eye yoga.
Your eyes are one of the most complex and intricate organs in your body, and yet they’re also one of the most commonly neglected. By practicing a little eye yoga, you can help keep them healthy and even improve your vision throughout the day.
Try this. Close your eyes and sit quietly, and start taking deep breaths to relax completely. Rub the palms of your hands together briskly until they grow warm, then place your palms gently over your closed eyes. Let your eye muscles relax as the heat from your hands is slowly transferred to your eyes. Stay here until the heat is entirely gone from your hands. Repeat this entire process three times.
Start Improving Your Brain Today
Just because the new year is past doesn’t mean you can’t still make a resolution to improve both your body and your brain! Start your yoga practice today and let us know how your brain has improved.
By Corinne Keating
Corinne Keating is a health blogger who loves coffee, yoga, and writing for her blog - whysowell.com.
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