Contributed by: Laurie Larson
The physical and mental health benefits of yoga and meditation go far beyond simply making you feel better or even boosting your energy levels. Both practices offer you the chance to improve your overall health and wellness by improving your mental and physical health via gentle daily practice. Here are a few reasons why you should consider taking up yoga and meditation for your wellness.
Benefits of Yoga
Lowers Stress and Improves Emotional Health
A Duke University Medical Center study revealed that engaging in yoga improved symptoms in those suffering from depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, and other mental health issues. While exercise in general is often connected to better overall health, yoga is uniquely tied to mental health because it causes an increase in the production of serotonin and oxytocin in your body. These are both “feel good” chemicals related to feelings of bonding, love, and happiness. In addition, yoga decreases production of the stress hormone cortisol, reducing stress.
Promotes Quality Sleep
Perhaps unsurprisingly given that it increases the “feel good” chemicals in your body, yoga can also lead to more revitalizing sleep. This is vital since there is a direct relationship between sleep and mental health. Sleep improves symptoms related to mental health conditions, and these improved symptoms promote sleep. In turn, yoga fosters quality sleep by reducing mental health symptoms that keep you up at night. As it does this, your higher-quality sleep improves your overall emotional well-being.
Reduces Pain and Inflammation
Research has shown that practicing yoga is more effective in relieving chronic pain than medical treatment alone. According to a study, participants coping with chronic back pain reported better back function and mobility after only a few months of yoga practice. This was in addition to the medical care they had already been receiving for the issue.
Benefits of Meditation
Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Meditation reduces symptoms of stress and anxiety in several ways. Even one meditation session will slow your heart rate and your breathing as well as lower your blood pressure. In addition, meditation increases efficiency of your body’s utilization of oxygen, clearing your mind, increasing focus, and making the performance of daily tasks less difficult and stressful. Meditation also reduces the production of cortisol. With your body functioning at a lower stress level, you are able to approach life’s stressors with more calmness, which improves relationships, productivity, and overall mental well-being.
Increases Mindfulness and Self-Awareness
The basis of meditation is to train yourself to be present in the moment. That means that you aren’t ruminating about regrets of the past or the uncertainty of the future. This allows you to be more realistic about what is in or out of your control and makes you more aware of what you can change for the better and what you cannot. This attention to the present moment in meditation is known as mindfulness and helps you not only increase self-awareness, but also increase awareness of your surroundings and how you relate to them.
When practiced regularly, yoga and meditation improve your long-term mental and physical health and well-being. They help you reduce anxiety and stress, get more quality sleep, and allow you to understand yourself better - improving your quality of life for the long-term.
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