Yoga therapy as adopted by the Western world has been used to treat various health problems and boost your general health. From reducing pain associated with terminal illnesses, relieving the symptoms of depression and anxiety, and eliminating the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, this ancient Indian practice has led to more than 20 million people in the United States alone to take up yoga.
Some might think yoga is only for slim, young white women, but on the contrary, millions of people practice yoga. Veterans, prisoners, students, and those suffering from Alzheimer’s have all found the value of namaste.
How and why yoga works aren’t a difficult science to understand. In fact, yoga therapy helps yogis in three important ways, and it’s mostly psychological.
1. Stress Reducer
The brain responds to situations we find stressful by increasing the production and release of cortisol and adrenaline. Too much cortisol and adrenaline tightens your muscles, increases blood pressure, and makes you feel more anxious.
When practicing yoga, you use your brain to essentially calm down the nervous system. For instance, when concentrating your body to remain in down-dog, your brain sends out “relaxation” signals to the rest of your body. Such signals come from the parasympathetic nervous system, which lowers blood pressure, slows heart rate, and relaxes muscles — or, all of the symptoms of stress!
2. Emotional Balance
Because yoga requires a quiet mind and strong concentration, moving through yoga poses increases specific brain chemicals like GABA, dopamine, and serotonin. Many anti-depressants actually increase the body’s normal production and regulation of such chemicals. Therefore, many psychologists suggest patients practice yoga to supplement medications.
Since practice makes perfect, continued practice of yoga means you’re more likely to utilize those yoga skills in your everyday life. Essentially, you could be using your yoga training without even realizing it.
3. Trauma Healing
Increasingly, doctors are urging patients to turn to yoga as a means to heal from trauma. When trauma occurs, the individual often feels disconnected from themselves, and find it very difficult to reconnect with who they were prior to the trauma.
Yoga therapy is an effective method of dealing with trauma as it incorporates time for self-reflective meditation. During meditation, you spend time self-reflecting, listening to your body, and concentrating on where your body feels strange, tight, or uncomfortable. Yoga instructors teach students how to psychologically release those negative feelings through guided meditation.
Featured image via: Newsroom