The 6 psychological benefits of yoga

Yoga is an ancient physical and mental practice that has been expanding all over the world because of its benefits as it ensures a firm body, a sound mind, and a benevolent spirit.

It is an ancient art that has demonstrated extensively that it can improve our quality of life, not only physically but also mentally and spiritually.

Psychology and yoga

It consists of postures ( asanas ), relaxation ( savasana ), meditation ( dhyana ), breathing ( pranayama ), kriyas (cleanings), mudras (energetic seals), kirtan (songs), mantra or rituals. In addition to an exercise, for many, it is a way of life that seeks well-being, inner peace. It implies a lifestyle that commits to the observation of ethical guidelines, principles of life, and adequate food.

Yoga achieves the integration of the movement with the breath until these cease to be two separate entities and become one. His practice becomes a potent transformation agent that causes profound changes in our health. Its use is seen as a  preventive or rehabilitative medicine because it stimulates metabolic and anabolic processes and improves the circulation of energy, oxygenating the body. When we talk about yoga, we can not only refer to the physiological benefits (for example, increased flexibility, decreased muscle stiffness, etc.), but we have to mention the positive consequences of emotional well-being on the mind. and the brain

Next, from  Psychology and Mind, we present the six psychological benefits of practicing yoga.

1. Reduce stress

The lifestyle of Western societies can lead many people to suffer stress, causing mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, etc. A study by  Thirthalli and Naveen (2013)  demonstrates that treatment with yoga reduces cortisol levels, a hormone that is released in response to stress.

Cortisol is necessary for the body since it regulates and mobilizes energy in stressful situations. Still, if we have too much or it increases in cases that we don’t need it, it produces many side effects. By practicing yoga, we can lower the levels of this hormone, and therefore, reduce stress.

2. Improves sleep

Serotonin (5-HT) is a neurotransmitter that is derived from an amino acid called tryptophan. Send messages within the brain and through the nervous system, and participate in many processes such as regulating mood or appetite. Also, one of its main tasks is to increase the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep cycles.

To achieve a peaceful rest, serotonin also intervenes in the control of stress and body temperature. “The practice of yoga increases serotonin levels, so it helps you sleep better,” explains Dr. Murali Doraiswam, author of a Duke University study that included the review of more than 100 research papers on yoga.

3. It improves the mood

As we have commented on the previous point, serotonin (5-HT) also regulates mood. Low levels of 5-HT are associated with depressive and obsessive behaviors. An investigation by Cabral, Meyer, and Ames (2011) found that regular yoga practice produces significant improvements in patients with depression and anxiety, similar to physical exercise due to the increase in serotonin.

Another neurotransmitter that seems to influence this aspect is GABA. A recent study from Boston University and the University of Utah has shown that there is also an increase in this neurotransmitter in yoga practitioners.

4. Extends the life and prevents degenerative diseases

American researchers from the Harvard University School of Medicine and the Massachusetts General Hospital have shown, after a study, that yoga and meditation increase the size of telomeres, structures that are located at the ends of chromosomes and that they are directly related to aging, the development of specific pathologies and even premature death.

The study concludes that there seems to be a positive correlation between healthy and abundant telomeres and the increase in longevity, the prevention of degenerative diseases, and the health of people. Doing yoga only 15 minutes a day is enough to produce biochemical changes in the brain and neurons.

5. Improve concentration

Yoga practitioners improve concentration, coordination, reaction time, memory, learning. They show a more exceptional ability to solve problems according to a study by Neha Gothe, a professor at Wayne State University in Detroit. According to his research, published in  The Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 20 minutes of yoga a day is more beneficial at a cognitive level than a session of intense physical activity.

  • Related article: «9 tips to improve concentration.»

6. Improves the relationship and sexual relations

According to Pete McCall, an exercise physiologist and personal trainer for the American Exercise Council: “Yoga can result in better sex because it will help your flexibility and strengthen your pelvic muscles.” A study published in  The Journal of Sexual Medicine suggests that yoga can treat premature ejaculation and improve sexual satisfaction.

In addition, as another research from the British Columbia University mentions, stress reduction thanks to the practice of yoga increases libido and sexual vitality. Therefore, by improving sex life in different ways, it is possible that the relationship also benefits.

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