Personal Growth

The 6 psychological benefits of yoga

We present the psychological benefits of a basic millennial practice for health, yoga.

The 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 a millenary art that has amply demonstrated 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 (cleansing), mudras (energy 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 and implies a lifestyle that commits to observing ethical guidelines, principles of life and adequate nutrition.

Yoga achieves the integration of movement with breathing until they cease to be two separate entities and become one. His practice becomes an extremely powerful agent of transformation that causes profound changes in our health. In fact, its use is seen as a preventive or rehabilitative medicine because it stimulates the 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 it produces on the mind, emotional well-being and the brain.

Then, 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 psychological health problems such as depression,  anxiety, etc. A study by Thirthalli and Naveen (2013) shows that yoga treatment reduces the levels of cortisol, a hormone that is released in response to stress.

Cortisol is necessary for the body because it regulates and mobilizes energy in stressful situations, but if we have too much or it increases in situations that we do not 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

The serotonin (5-HT) is a neurotransmitter that is derived from an amino acid called tryptophan. It sends messages to the brain and through the nervous system and participates in many processes such as regulating mood or appetite. In addition, one of its main tasks is to increase the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep cycles.

To achieve a peaceful rest, likewise,  serotonin 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 study by Duke University which included the review of more than 100 research papers on the yoga.

3. Improves the mood

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. Lengthens life and prevents degenerative diseases

American researchers at the Harvard Medical School 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 which are directly related to aging, the development of certain pathologies and even premature death.

The study concludes that there seems to be a positive correlation between healthy and large 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. Improves concentration

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

6. Improves the couple’s relationship and sexual relations

According to Pete McCall, exercise physiologist and personal  trainer for the American Council on Exercise: “Yoga can result in better sex because it will help your flexibility and strengthen the 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 other researchers from the University of British Columbia mentions, the reduction of stress thanks to the practice of yoga, increases libido and sexual vitality. Therefore, by improving sexual life in different ways, it is possible that the relationship is also benefited. 

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Andy Johnson

Degree in Psychology from the University of Buenos Aires. Master in Human Resources and expert in business communication and coaching. Postgraduate in Nutrition and Sanitary and Social Feeding by the UOC. Especially interested in wellness and sports.

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