Did you know that 20 minutes on a yoga mat, according to the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, is more beneficial to your brain compared to 20 minutes on a treadmill? How so? Well, the brain is a muscle and like all other muscles, it needs to be exercised for optimum functioning. Yoga, be it Hatha or Bikram, happens to be the best form of exercise for your brain and Science can back it up. Yoga is used to cope with a variety of mental illnesses such as anxiety, PTSD, depression, schizophrenia and even eating disorders. It is also great for boosting brain power and improving mental wellness. However, before you get to picking yoga sportswear or outfits that work for you, first get to understand how exactly the practice boosts your brain function.
Yoga improves your focus
The human brain faces countless distractions in a day, be it in school, at home or at work. Yoga improves your mental focus in two ways. First, it promotes mindfulness as it is based on the concept of focusing on the now. Being mindful sharpens your attention and sense of awareness and consequently your focus. Secondly, certain poses done during yoga, say the pranayama or the sirsasana stimulate the flow of fresh oxygenated blood to the brain. When the brain is supplied with oxygenated blood, it facilitates faster processing of sensory information. If you are struggling with staying focused, combining yoga and mental focus supplements that work, is the ultimate way to counter this particular challenge. By doing so, you sharpen your memory, your sense of awareness and your memory’s dynamic and static aspects, all of which work to give you better focus.
Yoga boosts concentration by relieving stress
Yoga has been scientifically proven to strengthen one’s ability to respond to stress better. Scientists from the Benson Henry Institute Mind and Body Medicine carried out a study on several subjects. After exposing them to thumbnail pressure, they came to the conclusion that yogis in the group had higher pain tolerance. Yoga inhibits or rather minimizes the production of the hormone cortisol, which acts as the primary stress hormone. Lower cortisol levels enable yogis to regulate stress and in the above case their pain response. So, whenever you feel stressed, take 20 minutes to practice some yoga. It is guaranteed to reduce your stress levels and stimulate your nervous system to process information more efficiently, which helps you concentrate better on whatever tasks you have on hand.
Yoga increases productivity by treating depression
The frustrations of the everyday life can be overwhelming. Poor performance at work or school, grief, substance abuse, and loss are among the major causes of depression in the 21st century. When depressed, one becomes very unproductive. Depressed people often find themselves incapable of doing even the mundane of tasks like showering or paying attention in school. Unknown to many, depression is an exaggerated stress response. Yoga decreases the impacts of such exaggerated stress responses. It increases your heart variability and therefore your ability to cope with stress better. It also helps with the release of negative energy by putting you in a zen place. This boosts your moods and gets you out of your depression funk which means you can get back to being productive.
Yoga promotes mental wellness by relieving anxiety
Anxiety is another common example of an exaggerated stress response which causes imbalances in the nervous system. It manifests itself through physiological reactions such as increased heartbeat rate, difficulty in breathing, and excessive sweating, to mention but a few. Yoga calms anxiety by stimulating the secretion of gamma-aminobutyric acid in the brain, which restores balance and centers the nervous system. People with anxiety are advised to use yoga as a coping skill whenever they feel overwhelmed. Yoga has also been used on people with PTSD. Once coupled up with therapy, it is very effective in reducing anxiety and therefore in promoting mental wellness.
Alternative ways of boosting your brain power
Aside from yoga, there are other things you can do to enhance your brains productivity and your concentration. Sudoku, scrabble, crosswords and trivia are first on the list. Playing mind games increases the speed at which the brain processes information. Eat well so as to provide your brain with the necessary nutrients. Drinking water also helps as hydration increases the brain’s electro-chemical activities. Exercising also boosts intellect by supplying fresh blood to the brain and promoting the formation of new brain cells. Taking walks even for just 10 minutes is also good for your brain.
Yoga helps you get more out of the 24 hours you have in a day. It helps you stay calm, relaxed and stress-free. Its many mental as well as physical benefits are the fuel behind the popularity of the practice, what with 36.7 million Americans being yogis, as of 2015. The number is estimated to rise to 55 million by 2020 according to Statista. If there is a trend you need to keep up with, it’s yoga; the high yield yet low-intensity workout guaranteed to boost your brain power and bring out your genius.