Last updated on November 23rd, 2023.
Several studies in the past few years have indicated that yoga is good for brain health, mood, and overall functioning. You may notice that people who practice yoga are happier, more relaxed, and healthier.
Yoga affects certain neurotransmitters in the brain. It changes your brain for you to be able to handle stress, anxiety, and depression better. Breathwork training alone has a tremendous impact on memory and concentration.
You can even regenerate your brain cells by practicing yoga. If you would like to understand more on the topic of how yoga changes your brain chemistry, peruse this article.
What's Happening in Our Brains During Yoga?
As a whole, your brain relaxes when you do yoga, and your stress levels decrease significantly. During yoga, your brain may relax, but it is also clear and alert. It opens the mind and helps to improve overall brain function. Yoga works on your neurotransmitters and hormones.
GABA is a neurotransmitter that blocks fear, anxiety, and stress. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter created by your body, and this organic courier sends signals from one nerve cell to another. Dopamine helps us with our focus, sleep, and mood. The hormones are:
Yoga assists with better mental health, as it promotes the well-being and calmness of the brain. When you are doing yoga, it improves concentration and memory because you need to think about the movement of the muscle and count your breaths.
Breathing slowly in and out will also help you lower stress levels and provide mental clarity and stillness of the mind. Yoga can also help you with your sympathetic nervous system, which controls the fight or flight response.
What Kind of Impact Does Yoga Have on The Body and Brain?
Yoga works to unite the body and brain into one powerful force that leads to a happier, more balanced life. If done correctly, the movements in yoga, coupled with the breathwork, should bring your chakras into perfect alignment. Stretching is also a powerful mental healer and makes the mind clearer. It helps you think about what you are doing and allows you to be present in the moment.
When you do yoga, you connect to your body and mind for optimum healing. Yoga has a positive effect on brain chemistry. When you do yoga, you can stabilize your mood and your energy. Yoga increases activity in the cingulate and medial prefrontal cortex. The cingulate cortex plays an essential role in emotion formation:
Yoga can positively impact individuals with depression and anxiety, as it can lessen both. The cingulate cortex also plays a part in respiratory control. The medial prefrontal cortex plays a crucial role in emotion and motivation. It helps you respond positively to challenges, such as holding a pose for a long time.
Yoga can increase focus and memory. It is because yoga will open your mind, and you will be able to think more clearly. When you practice yoga, you will use the same neural pathways in your brain required for memory. You can train your brain to be susceptible to achieving a higher level of thinking.
More research needs to be conducted to determine which part of yoga is most helpful to brain health. People seem to respond well cognitively during yoga’s breathwork or meditative component.
What Are the Benefits to the Body?
Yoga is excellent for people who want a low-impact exercise that will help to alleviate pain or prevent injuries or pain. Yoga decreases back pain and relieves tension. Yoga also helps to improve core strength, which helps with lower back pain.
When you practice yoga, you involve both large and small muscle groups. It helps with body awareness, and it can even help you if you are a runner and do other exercises that can compromise or affect the health of your muscles. When you have less pain, you have less stress, and you will have more energy to be involved in your daily activities.
When you get your heart rate up during yoga, you will have more energy throughout the day. When you relax your muscles and relieve tension, it can help naturally improve your sleep quality. After your yoga session, your heart rate will be lower, which takes the stress off the heart. Yoga can also help with mobility issues and overall balance.
Practicing yoga leads to better flexibility, which helps with your range of motion. You will have more control during strenuous activities and better energy.
How Does Yoga Change Your Brain Chemistry?
Our brains consist of both white matter and gray matter. Both are important for a healthy brain. Each tissue type plays a different role. Gray matter is responsible for learning skills and memory. Both of which improve as a result of doing yoga. IT also works on the five senses, which are:
The above senses are heightened when you practice yoga. You become more aware of everything and more connected to the world around you. White matter in your brain is involved in the sending and receiving signals. If your white matter is healthy, it allows your brain to coordinate your thoughts and movements. When you do yoga, your coordination gets better.
Yoga also increases the folds in your brain. The folds contain your brain cells, which means that yoga can increase the brain cells in the brain. New cells can help repair cognitive damage after years of abuse and helps with mental well-being.
If you keep up the production of endorphins, you can keep your brain working in top form. Yoga increases breathing, holding postures, and meditation, all of which increase or change the production of neurotransmitters in the brain.
Yoga can enhance the firing rates of serotonin neurons, which leads to the release of serotonin. The increase in serotonin levels is why yoga is so good for those who suffer from depression. Yoga increases blood flow to the brain, which changes brain structure.
What Kind of Yoga is Best for the Brain?
Yoga is known to help the brain work more actively and at a higher level. Many yoga exercises (or movements through the Yoga Asanas/Poses) are beneficial to the brain.
- Halasana improves the working ability of the brain, improves memory, and helps with digestion
- Shirshasana helps to keep the mind running when your brain starts to wander or lose focus
- Bakasana relaxes you and balances and stimulates the nerves correlated with the brain
- Meditation helps clear the mind and enhances focus
- Padmasana helps to decrease stress, brings peace of mind, and aligns various chakras in the body
- Tadasana is beneficial to combat insomnia and headaches and improves the overall quality of life
- Mayurasana is effective in increasing concentration and helping with coordination issues
- Padangustasana boosts overall brain function and memory storage
- Vajrasana enhances brain power, overall digestion and fights constipation
- Bhramari Pranayama helps with concentration and memory
It is imperative that when you do yoga, you do the poses exactly right because any pain or stress on the body can do more harm than good. Also, try to do yoga every day for maximum benefits.