HOW YOGA CAN HELP YOUR MIND

Think yoga is only for a leaner, more toned body? Think again. There is a reason why yoga is good for the body, mind and soul.

Before, there was no scientific explanation for this, but in May 2012, Dr. Chris Streeter, an associate professor of psychiatry and neurology at the Boston University School of Medicine, and her team hypothesize that yoga works to tackle those conditions- through regulating the nervous system. They believe that yoga helps with the resilience through its positive impact on vagal tone. (No, it doesn’t mean what you’re thinking right now)

So what actually is the vagal tone?
In our bodies, the largest nerve we have is called a vagus nerve. This nerve starts at the base of our skulls, and journeys through the body. This nerve affects not only the nervous system, but the respiratory system as well as the digestive system. The vagus nerve regulates all the major bodily functions, which would include breathing, digestion and heart rate.

How does this affect you?
The vagus nerve is critical in its relation to optimal psychological functioning, and an important marker to resilience. Generally, people who have a high vagal tone have a better digestive and respiratory system, and can handle stress well. On the other hand, people with low vagal tone are more sensitive to disease and stress. They face problems such as having increased heart rate, weak digestion and they find it harder to manage their emotions. Low vagal tone is linked to health conditions such as epilepsy, depression, anxiety and chronic pain.

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What is the relation to all this and yoga?
One of the ways to improve your vatal tone is by the way you breathe. Doing yoga, you are taught different breathing techniques as you stretch and get inclined with your body. Breathing is essential in getting a high vagal tone. Moreover, doing yoga helps increase dopamine and serotonin which are neurotransmitters that help you feel relaxed and ready to handle any stressful situation you are in so you would feel happier in general.

 

Remember, life is too short to be anything but happy, so pick up your mats and start stretching and breathing right.