Yoga dates back over 5,000 years and is considered the oldest healing art. Health practitioners recognize the physical, psychological and emotional benefits of ancient yoga. Millions of participants have experienced incredible, positive changes in life and health from a sustained yoga practice.
Countless articles have been written about the benefits of yoga from physiological to biochemical, in addition to psychological. And ABC-of-Yoga.com states that yoga stimulates muscle tissue, organs, and blood flow.
In fact, the benefits of yoga are ever increasing (see sample lists below), and because the risk of injury is much higher in conventional exercise options, many are choosing yoga as their optimal exercise, based on overall benefits and duration of practice into advanced age.
|Glucose decreases||Nervous system equilibrium||Memory/Concentration improves|
|HDL increases||Alpha waves increase||Learning efficiency improves|
|LDL decreases||Cardiovascular efficiency increase||Mood improves|
Furthermore, according to experts, one of the greatest benefits derived from this stimulation, is how pliable the brain becomes when someone practices yoga. Currently, the best way to measure it is by the use of Electroencephalography (EEG), which records brain waves, detecting the level of electrical activity in the brain.
According to Dr. B. RAMAMURTHY, from The Hindu: Online edition of India’s National Newspaper, three kinds of waves are recorded in an EEG: the alpha wave, the beta wave and the delta wave, which is a very slow wave. In the deep stages of sleep, the alpha content increases. He adds that when yogis begin to meditate they gradually go into the alpha state. Yoga Point explains this further…beta activity is normally noted in the awake working state, and as relaxation begins alpha activity increases, with increasing relaxation moving onto theta, ending with delta, in deep sleep.
Yoga Helps Us Relax
Many of us can’t simply ease into meditation and relaxation. We first need the aid of yoga to help move into a relaxed state. In alpha –relaxed, still state, the body and mind slows down, making it ideal for the neurotransmitters in our brain to get rewired, reconnected — building the best road-map — superhighway to transport and imprint new learned behaviors.
In a recent, in-house study at Hot Box Yoga, four students had their EEG tested after a Gentle Yoga class. The example below highlights the brain activity state of the student — pre and post class, clearly highlighting the spike in alpha activity.
As you can see in the bottom graph, the alpha brain waves (indicated by the light purple line) are going off the chart. There is a significant change in the brain after the yoga session.
Therefore, the ultimate benefit is “pliability” – stretching of the mind, as the name states it’s never dense; therefore, one can, whatever the age – young or old, train the mind indefinitely. And what better way to stretch the mind as well as the body as when practicing yoga.