Meditation & Yoga
Meditation and yoga are some of the most common ways to practice mindfulness. They are scientifically proven to reduce stress and improve emotion processing in the brain. They also improve attention and alter cognitive processes, improving an overall positive attitude towards life.
There are lots of different ways you can practice mediation, each having different effects on the body and the brain. While meditating, you can either focus on a specific object, your breath, or things that are happening around you and your feelings and sensations. You can even use meditation by means to overcome your fears or negative feelings toward something that happened recently, or even your childhood trauma. That's usually done by distancing yourself from the feeling and observing it while meditating.
Since many of us still associate meditation with Buddhism, Hinduism, or other religious practices, most of us might think of its spiritual properties rather than the scientific perspective. So did I, before I became interested in its effects and started gathering more facts-based information. It turned out there's LOTS of scientific evidence of how and why meditation works.
Yoga helps us to slow down and have a particular focus during the practice. By focusing on your body's sensations and your breath while holding different poses, we get the opportunity to come out of our thoughts, which, in the long term, is proven to improve many structures in our brain.
While in ancient India, yoga was mainly used for spiritual practices, nowadays it has become a popular type of exercise or a way to relax. Through doing asanas (positions), connected in vinyasas (flow of different positions) your brain faces positive changes in the long term and your body becomes stronger - win-win!
If you already practice yoga regularly, you are very likely to have a better perception of your body, as well as are better at directing your attention. You are also less stressed and have better self-awareness, compared to the people who don't practice yoga. The brain areas responsible for these improvements are scientifically proven to differ in yogis and non-yogis.
There's lots of evidence of how yoga and meditation can be used to overcome light forms of depression and anxiety, as well as reduce stress. These effects are gaining popularity among neuroscience researchers, some are already being proven to work. Their effects on pain reduction are also widely studied and are being proven by different scientists all over the world, both in terms of chronic and acute pain.
Physiological symptoms that are widely related to stress can also be overcome by yoga and meditation. For example, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), whose symptoms usually tend to worsen during stressful times can be alleviated by breathing exercises that are of meditative nature. The same goes for insomnia and other stress-related physiological symptoms. Meditation and yoga are even being studied in terms of cardiovascular finding evidence of its efficacy.
Since I discovered the effects of meditation and yoga on myself a long time ago, I am really excited to share my findings with all of you. Stay tuned for my blog posts on science-based facts of meditation and yoga on your brain and body and don't forget to subscribe to my mailing list!
And most importantly - remember to be mindful