Yoga is a mind-body practice that originated in ancient India. These are movement, mediation and breathing techniques that promote mental and physical well-being. The philosophy of yoga, in general terms, is to center ourselves and connect body, mind and spirit.
Yoga also helps you focus on the present moment and increases the flexibility of your body. There are many forms of yoga: Hatha, Bikram, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Hot Yoga, among others so everyone should be able to find at least one approach that works well for their needs.
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Yoga can help improve brain functions such as executive functions, memory, and attention/concentration. Many research studies suggest that yoga has a potentially beneficial effect on brain health. Goethe and his colleagues reviewed 11 studies on the effects of yoga on brain health. Their review indicates that there are changes in hippocampal volume in experienced yoga practitioners.
Yoga also has a neuroprotective effect, meaning it can potentially slow cognitive aging in the brain. A 2012 study by Froeliger and colleagues proposes that subjects who practiced yoga were able to reduce emotional interference while performing advanced cognitive executive functioning tasks.
The researchers also concluded that yoga meditation practice may provide therapeutic benefits for subjects with deficits in cognitive control. The 2013 study indicated that cognitive performance after yoga was significantly better in terms of decreased reaction time and increased accuracy. Yoga can also help improve attention/concentration.
Yoga can have positive effects on mental health and well-being. Research indicates that practicing yoga has several important mental health benefits, including reducing anxiety, depression, and stress, and improving overall well-being. Cramer and colleagues suggested that yoga may help reduce anxiety and depression compared to no treatment.
Yoga can also be considered as an ancillary treatment option for depressive disorders. Studies also indicate that practicing yoga may be relevant for people who have been exposed to some type of trauma. Regular talk therapy may not be enough to treat trauma because those experiences live in brain structures that don’t respond to words. Therefore, body-based practices such as yoga can have a positive effect on the health and well-being of trauma survivors.
Also, yoga helps you focus on the present moment and shift your mindset from a negative focus to a positive focus. Other studies suggest that yoga may have medical benefits, such as improving breathing, maintaining a balanced metabolism, and increasing flexibility and the body’s ability to tolerate pain and discomfort.
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