The Science Behind Yoga and Stress

by Shelby

Stress has become a major issue today. We are a giant stressed out society, and even worse, were becoming dependent on drugs to fix our issues!

Stress is a naturally occurring emotion, however, that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. The common phrase, ‘stress is the real killer’, has a lot more meaning than you would think. Stress really is the killer because it has such a harmful effect on your body. Excessive stress can cause tons of different disorders, such as mental health issues, personality disorders, depression, and anxiety! It even brings about physical health ailments like cardiovascular disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, heart attack, and even stroke. I mean, not that we don’t know stress is bad for us, because we all do. All in all, it’s just a sucky thing to feel.

People deal with their stress in many different ways, and not all of them are healthy. Many people form drug addictions, alcoholism, and other unhealthy habits in order to cope with their stress. It is important to deal with your stress in a healthy manner, and yoga is one of the best natural stress relievers there is. Yoga has gained lots of well-deserved media attention in the past few years, and it’s still growing. This is because people are realizing just how beneficial yoga is! Aside from increasing your metabolism, improving circulation, and reducing anxiety, yoga can additionally alleviate your stress. Here’s the science behind it.

Duke University researchers published a review of more than 100 different studies looking at the effects of yoga on your mental health.  Lead author Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, a professor of psychiatry and medicine at Duke University Medical Center told Time Magazine:

“Most individuals already know that yoga produces some kind of a calming effect. Individually, people feel better after doing the physical exercise. Mentally, people feel calmer, sharper, maybe more content. We thought it’s time to see if we could pull all [the literature] together… to see if there’s enough evidence that the benefits individual people notice can be used to help people with mental illness.”

Studies suggest that yoga might even have a similar effect to antidepressants and psychotherapy. It influences neurotransmitters and boosts your happy chemical, also known as serotonin. After a yoga session, you will even feel as if you have worked out the logical brain. It makes you feel mentally calm, keeping the brain quiet. Stronger connections with the logical brain, (or scientifically known as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, other parts of the prefrontal cortex, parts of the cingulate cortex and parts of the hippocampus).

Working out the logical brain for a long time can cause a ‘rewiring’ of the nerve connections related to stress. New circuitry enables you to find it easier to channel your thoughts into a more positive fashion. Instead of focusing on the negative, you might naturally pay more attention to the good things that come out of a bad experience.

If you’re looking to adopt yoga as a stress reliever, practice the routine in the video below. I, along with the researchers from Duke University, assure you that you will experience a reduction in stress.

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