What happens to your brain and body when you do yoga regularly?

Yoga, an ancient form of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines, largely consists of postures called asanas. Yoga, being a pre-Vedic tradition, is mentioned in Rigveda.

If you start doing yoga for real this time, you are going to join the 36 million-plus Americans who have taken up this beautiful practice. Yoga connects you with an old tradition, helping you flush out those nasty toxins or probably not. Before you grab a mat and take up the position, do read what yoga does to your body and brain.



Yoga and brain

Yoga comes in many different styles, but generally, it involves some amount of stretching and meditation. However, there is no scientific evidence to support the idea that yoga flushes out toxins from your colon or anywhere else. But that doesn’t mean these techniques can’t help your body in other ways. For instance, consider back pain. An estimated 80% of Americans are expected to suffer from back pain at one point in their lives. One study found that after just 6 to 12 yoga sessions, participants reported significantly less pain in their lower back. That is because certain yoga poses to stretch out your hamstrings, which when are too tight can yank on your hip flexors and strain your lower back. The more you practice yoga, the more flexible your hamstrings get. For example, in a 2015 study, women practiced a type of hatha yoga which involves positions like downward dog and triangle pose. They practiced 90 minutes each week for around 16 weeks straight. By the last week, they could reach 4 cms closer to their toes than before. All thanks to those loose hamstrings.



Meditation

If you are also meditating during those yoga sessions, flexibility might not be the only benefit. After 7 to 16 weeks of meditative activities, participants in one study saw a huge drop in C-reactive protein in their blood. These proteins are linked to inflammation, which when you are overly stressed can kick into overdrive and overtime that inflammation may contribute to serious illnesses like cardiovascular disease and cancer. That is where yoga’s meditative qualities can help. Researchers believe that yoga may reduce stress by interfering with the central nervous systems’ ability to release stress hormones. Studies also show that meditation focused types of yoga asanas boost the levels of feel-good hormones like oxytocin in the brain. Plus yoga is an exercise, which in itself is a stress reliever. The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends 2.5 to 5 hours a week of light to moderate exercise that could include workouts like yoga, brisk walking, or swimming. To be fair, any amount of regular exercise is most likely going to reduce anxiety, elevate mood, and improve sleep and self-esteem.



While yoga might have an edge in the departments of flexibility and mindfulness, plenty of other activities can also help you get fit. As long as exercise gets you moving and maybe gives you some new friends why not give it a try!





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