The Benefits of Yoga – What’s What Wednesday
This week Sunshine State Counseling Center is recognizing the benefits of yoga and what it can do for mental health. Practicing yoga not only incorporates breathing exercises, poses and meditation designed to promote relaxation and stress reduction, but it also brings the mind and body together in a way that benefits both mental and physical health. We will discuss a few evidence-based benefits of yoga that may enhance your overall health, while increasing strength, flexibility, and mindfulness.
Here are 3 Evidence-based benefits of Yoga:
Decreases Stress: Studies have shown that yoga decreases the secretion of cortisol, which is the primary stress hormone. Yoga encourages slow breathing and focuses on shifting the balance from the sympathetic nervous system (flight-or-flight response) to the parasympathetic nervous system. This creates a calming effect, lowers blood pressure, and increases blood flow to the intestines and organs, and therefore, decreases the body’s stress.
Relieves Anxiety: Some people find that practicing yoga is a great way to cope with feelings of anxiety. One study has shown that individuals who suffered from anxiety disorders that participated in yoga twice a week had significantly lower levels of anxiety than the control group that did not participate in yoga. Another study followed 64 women with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After 10 weeks of practicing yoga once a week, 52% of participants no longer met the criteria for PTSD. These findings help emphasize the importance of finding the “present moment” and allowing yourself to find a sense of peace.
Helps Fight Depression: Studies have shown that the practice of yoga can also have an anti-depressant effect. This may be true due to the fact that yoga is able to decrease levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that influences levels of serotonin, the neurotransmitter often associated with depression. One study took participants from an alcohol-dependence program. After two weeks of yoga practice that focused on rhythmic breathing, all participants showed fewer symptoms of depression and had lower levels of ACTH, the hormone responsible for stimulating the release of cortisol.
Yoga is one form of exercise that fits people of all ages and fitness levels. Regardless of the type of yoga you prefer, each one offers a holistic approach to mind-body connection and strength. Yoga offers lasting benefits and cultivates a sense of inner peace and calmness, boosting your physical, emotional, and mental health.