Yoga is more than just a full body workout; it is a complete mind exercise, too.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is the art of discipline, meditation, and adoption of bodily posture and poise. It is an 8000-year old spiritual science that offers a direct method of stopping mental disturbances and promoting self-assurance, confidence, and mindfulness.
The Body’s Stress Response
A lot of us aren’t even aware of the tension we naturally carry within our bodies. In our busy, 24/7 connected world, the stress response is working overtime. The stress response is activated whenever work, life, and relationship stressors get too high - which they inevitably do. A stressed body is a tense body. Where there is tension (like clenched fists, locked jaws, and hunched shoulders), our body interprets the physiological holding pattern as emotional and mental stress. Personal trainer Elliott Hulse describes these neurotic holding patterns as “muscular armoring.”
A tight body is a body on high alert. Cortisol and adrenaline spike and your nervous system work overtime when we are “armored up” and the body feels under attack. You clench your musculature in preparation for a battle that may never come. Biologically, the fight or flight response is activated, and cortisol and other stress hormones flood the body.
How Does Yoga Reduce Stress?
Yoga combines physical and mental disciplines which aid in calming the mind, managing stress and promoting self-awareness. Through controlled breathing patterns and both physical and psychological meditation, yoga has the healing ability to reduce and eliminate stress and anxiety. Acupuncture, yoga, and meditation help to draw attention to the body and relax the clenched up muscles. Our minds, perceiving that our bodies have relaxed, begin to calm down, too. Studies have shown that a quick 20-minute yoga session every morning or every evening can drastically ease stress, lessen anxiety, and increase productivity. Practicing yoga:
- Encourages a positive, good mood
- Heightens mindfulness, so you are present and not focused on the past
- Releases endorphins, a chemical in the brain that is responsible for being 'happy,' thus promoting well-being
Positive Effects of Yoga On The Body
The unique thing about yoga is that it combines non-traditional ways to cure tension and stress, including breathing exercises, meditation, and guided imagery. It is an excellent alternative to pharmaceutical medication when looking to boost your mood and increase well-being.
Health benefits of yoga include:
- Lowering heart rate
- Slowing the aging process
- Reducing muscle tension
- Relieving asthma symptoms
- Improving flexibility
- Building muscle strength
- Perfecting posture
Renew Your Mind, Body, and Spirit
Your environment and lifestyle play a definitive role in the level of peace and serenity you possess. With the proper dose of spiritual connectivity, you can renew your spirit and restore peacefulness. To relax your mind and body, you need peace and quiet. Yoga is a holistic way to rejuvenate your spirit through a mind-body connection. A study published in 2005 discovered that those women who felt “emotionally distressed” and who partook in two, 90-minute yoga sessions per week, reported anxiety levels dropping by 30%, with overall well-being increasing in participants by 65% after three months . Specifically, hatha yoga  is a great type of yoga that is perfect for beginners due to its slower pace and ease of movements.
How to Maintain a Healthy Mind 
- Set aside time each day to meditate which will ensure a state of restful awareness
- Consume a healthy diet full of an eclectic variety of nutritious foods
- Move your body and engage in daily exercise
- Get a restful sleep each night
photo credit: dimaberkut © 123rf.com
Yoga Poses to Improve Sleep Quality
Yoga is known to relax the mind so much that it increases the ability to get quality sleep in those who suffer from sleep issues and insomnia. The ancient practice rests the nervous system; the system that is accountable for a restful sleep. These yoga techniques are proven to help those with sleeping difficulties to rest better resulting in higher productivity throughout the day and ultimately less stress. These methods will put your body into a mellow and laid-back state making falling asleep much easier.If you have sleep issues , try these types of yoga poses:
Yoga Poses to Boost Energy
If you are looking to lessen fatigue and boost energy, opt to try these poses. These techniques are most effective when completed in the morning, as they work to awaken you through deep breaths allowing oxygen into your blood resulting in increased energy. (Or skip the complex terminology and drag a friend along with you to a morning yoga class)!