Since the 1970s, many studies have advised meditation as a way to treat some mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression, or as a way to better respond to stress.
Yoga has gone somewhat more unnoticed at an academic level, although more and more people are beginning to work in a global way, accepting that body, mind and soul are a whole and that they all affect each other.
That is why yoga, by working the physical, psychological and spiritual part of the human being, is revealing itself as a very useful tool to maintain a healthy mind.
The practice of yoga is moving from the private to the public realm. It has been shown that students who introduce yoga routines into their habits cope better with their exams, and that workplaces where yoga is easier to do have a better environment and greater efficiency and productivity. The “professionals of the mind”, people whose work depends exclusively on their brain, also surrender to the benefits of yoga.
The case of the chess player Victor Kirchner is known, one of the best in history, who at 75 was the oldest player to be in the World Top 100, and who attributed his mental strength to a daily routine of yoga, jogging and caviar.
In the world of poker it is increasingly common to see players who practice yoga even during tournaments and who, like Canadian Adrienne Row some, recognize that it helps them physically and psychologically in their activity.
After all, it only takes 5 minutes to flip the stress switch with a few yoga exercises.
In an article published by Harvard Health Publishing in 2009, it was already discussed how research had concluded that yoga helps regulate the response we give to stress. The fact of knowing how to deal with stress better reduces anxiety.
The simple act of having to concentrate on a posture and hold it while we are aware of our breathing affects our nervous system and heart.
We go from a state of tension and alertness to one of relaxation and calm. This trance leads to talk that yoga increases GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a substance that reduces neuronal activity. If the levels of this neurotransmitter are low, it increases anxiety, nervousness, etc.
In the aforementioned Harvard Health Publishing article, entitled “Yoga for anxiety and depression “, it also talks about an experiment in which it was shown that people who practice yoga have a greater resistance to pain.
Breathing and yoga exercises make our brain respond better to threats, to better adapt to situations.
In addition to the effects that breathing and relaxation have on our body, one of the advantages of yoga that benefits our mind the most is being self-aware.
By working with our body we are aware of it. Knowing who we are and what we are helps us to be at peace with ourselves and with others.
Our social and personal relationships improve, and we are more resilient, which means that we adapt better to circumstances and know how to overcome adversity.
This awareness of oneself and of one’s place with respect to others also carries a responsibility. But as we have seen, yoga helps us to know how to accept responsibilities without falling into the trap of stress.
Consistency, the desire to improve and wanting to improve – both physically and mentally and emotionally – are characteristics that accompany the practice of yoga and that are transferred to our daily lives.
In short, yoga is a tool that helps our brain know how to focus, focus on what is important and find the best solution.