Yoga is an age-old practice with roots dating back 5,ooo years. There are many forms of yoga and all share an attempt to create a state of blissful enlightenment, called ananda. On the way there specific forms of breathing and exercise encourage physical purification.
While some forms of yoga have long been shown to reduce hypertension, cholesterol levels, and other signs of physiological stress, the effects of the ancient practice on psychological stress have been less studied. But a slew of recent research published by peer-reviewed journals in the U.S., Europe and India is documenting the ability of yoga to decrease mood disturbances, reduce psychic stress and anxiety, and reduce PTSD symptoms. Effects have been seen within days of initiating instruction and have been documented up to six months after a course of yoga training.
Lorenzo Cohen, director of the Integrative Medicine Program at University of Texas, calls it “the quintessential mind-body practice.” Cohen predicts that yoga “can and will show to be helpful for managing stress and mild anxiety we all experience in daily living.”
Yogic breathing physiologically affects the nervous system to produce profound changes in emotional states. It acts via the vagus nerve – the “rest and digest” or calming pathway – of the autonomic nervous system. When activated it slows down breathing and heart rate and increases intestinal activity. It not only carries signals from brain to body but also ferries signals from body back to the brain.
If you change your breathing pattern, you can change your emotions.
The enduring benefits of yoga of numerous. It improves fitness, can be done most anywhere, has minimal side effects, acts quickly and need not be done daily life for years before you start to feel the healing powers of it.