“Conquer the mind and you can conquer anything.” That is a popular saying amongst Yogis (yoga instructors) very few people recognize the truth and meaning behind this statement. There is a clear connection between the health benefits associated with yoga having to do with the body, power strength, balance, flexibility. Few people are aware of the multiple benefits it can serve for the brain and mind as well. Is there a clear benefit and connection between mind and body when practicing yoga?
“Yoga can supposedly improve depressive symptoms and immune function, as well as decrease chronic pain, reduces stress, and lower blood pressure. These claims have all been made by yogis over the years, and it sounds like a lot of new age foolishness. Surprisingly, however, everything in that list is supported by scientific research.”(psychologytoday.com) The main struggle in yoga is to overcome the challenge, each pose is challenging, and your goal is to breathe and remain calm throughout the struggle and to find your inner peace and keep going. This is a strong concept to conquer; the mind of course often does whatever it wants. The true gain one finds is when one does overcome the struggle; it is the process where one benefits. Studies have shown a correlation between yoga and how one handles stress.
Yoga retrains your brain in how it reacts to the automatic stress response.( Korb) When the body first senses stress, the first reaction is to quit and to become tense and start panicking and stop whatever you are doing. Yoga teaches you to push through it and retrain the way your brain functions in accordance to stress. When your brain detects stress it reacts a certain way, prewired if you will, through yoga you can change the prewired disposition to handle stress. The asanas (breaths) and pranayama (postures) work together to calm both, the body and the mind. In some of the more difficult poses, you are taught to “Breathe through it”, which basically means, with every exhale, you go a little deeper into the stretch. The trick is to quiet the mind, if you can quiet the mind, a sensation of peace and tranquility overwhelms the body, despite its physical distress.
Another benefit found, is the breath is connected to the mind, when one relaxes and breathes deeply, the mind is slowed down as well. “Yoga also affects the Vagus nerve, which is a cranial nerve, is unique because it takes information from the body and takes it to the brain. The vagus nerve also stimulates the GABA, gamma-aminobutyric acid, is a neurotransmitter.” (psychology today) GABA is necessary when it comes to controlling anxiety and depression. When GABA levels are low, a person tends to feel more anxiety. Practicing yoga, releases that GABA and actual sends information to your brain that the body is okay. This is why people who practice yoga always feel refreshed and wonderful after practicing, it literally is a healing process.
One scientific study that was conducted by...