Yoga, what is it really?
According to legend, yoga originated in India over 10,000 years ago. However, it was not export to Western countries until the end of the 19th century. Today, there are many different styles. In most languages, the term “yoga” has no direct translation, but generally it means “to connect” or “to unite”. It represents the union of body and mind. Originally, its purpose was essentially spiritual and it played a fundamental role in Hindu and Buddhist practices. But today, it is recognize worldwide for its physical benefits. It turns out that what’s good for your soul is also good for your body, who would have thought?
yoga and the brain
We’ve already covered the physical benefits of yoga in a previous article, but how does it impact your mind? Yoga has been proven to improve focus, boost feelings of belonging and wholeness, positively impact symptoms of depression, help with sleep disturbances, and the list goes on and on. If yoga has so many benefits, it is because it allows the body and mind to move from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system.
The sympathetic nervous system
Also known as the so-called fight or flight response, the sympathetic nervous system activates when we are stress. Our heart rate increases, our breathing quickens, our muscles contract, and we generally have negative and aggressive thoughts. In this state, the body and the mind judge and act quickly, which is good when it comes to fleeing dangerous situations, but detrimental in everyday life. Using this system tires the body and distracts the mind.
The parasympathetic nervous system
Conversely, the parasympathetic nervous system corresponds to a state of relaxation and activates when our mind is relax. Our heart rate slows down, our breathing is control, our muscles are relax and we then entertain creative and joyful thoughts. This system regenerates the body, calms the mind and improves concentration.
You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that, in everyday life, your body is better off relying on the parasympathetic nervous system than the sympathetic nervous system. Yoga is one of the most reliable methods for allowing your body to experience both the physical and mental benefits of the parasympathetic nervous system. It is also particularly beneficial to athletes, as it allows them to better control their muscles and improve their flexibility and balance.
Yoga helps you know yourself better
When you practice yoga’s, you are more aware of your body and how you feel. Which means you can spot tight muscles, joints that need more attention, and imbalances in muscle strength and flexibility. During a yoga session, the mind is focus and calm, allowing you to be very open and honest with yourself. Many people use yoga not only to stretch and regenerate their muscles, but also to reflect and meditate.
How to start
The ideal would be to start with a yoga teacher, in a specialized center or a gym. It would also be good to ask for information and try different types of yoga to find the one that suits you best. If you don’t already have a yoga mat, check with the establishment beforehand to find out if they provide the necessary equipment.