Do you think, yoga could be the tool for cognitive brain training? There are more than 100 reasons, how yoga helps physically, but here I am going to talk about the 2nd dimension of Yoga, i.e, MIND. Do you know, why I do yoga? Because, my brain loves yoga. I feel yoga is something more than just learning to touch your nose to knees. If you learn headstand, you will love to start and end your practice with the same.
keeping yourself stress-free becomes a challenge
In these modern days, keeping yourself stress-free becomes a challenge. But, If it is asked to me, “suggest one best tool” for stress management I would suggest “Yoga” first. Since, yoga keeps your brain sharp, and at the same time, teaches you how to be chilled out. We all have heard that YOGA is all about BODY, MIND and SOUL. And, its also very common that yoga decreases stress. However, what is less common is “WHY”. Why exactly is, Yoga good for the mind?
When we step out of a yoga class, no doubt we feel better from top to down, head to toe. Our muscles feel more relaxed, stronger and active. But, what’s really going on in our brain cells when we come out any postures, like, Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Forward Bend) or headstand or any other inversions? Do we not feel stress free, calmer, relaxed?
Of course, yes. Then, first question you should ask yourself, why and how? What happens inside the brain, when we practice yoga? Obviously, brains cells get enriched with oxygen and blood, which relaxes your mind and also retrain the brain.
Let’s understand this deeply. The research at the Swedish Medical University Karlolinsker has already proven that cognitive training can alter brain cells. It says that there is deeper relationship exists between cognition and the brain’s biological structure. The conscious mind training brings about visible changes in the Dopamine receptors ( neurotransmitters) which plays important role in various brain functions and also regards to behavior.
Disruptions to the dopamine system becomes a growing ground to cognitive impairment diseases like Schizophrenia, (a disorder that affects a person’s ability to think, feel and behave clearly. On the other hand, PET scan during the control study have confirmed that intensive mind training leads to change in the number of dopamine receptors, which can be significant in curing various mental diseases.
So, coming again to the point, how yoga exactly train the brain and keep mind stress free? I remember the book “Hatha Yoga Pradeepika“, where I studied about Yoga Sutra, which says “Sithiramsukham Aasanam“, which means your postures should be steady and joyful. However, initially when you start the yoga practice, your postures are full of stress, your face get red and tensed but at the same time your yoga instructor keep on reminding to keep the face relaxed and continue deep breathing. They teach our brain how to be relaxed and smiling even in this uncomfortable posture. Thus, continuous and regular yoga practice improves the postures and also teaches us to respond to stress with deep breaths and relaxed muscles.
Your Yoga Practice might be for an hour on the mat, but the lesson you get in an hour stay with you always, in each and every stress-full situation.
Thus, yoga could be the best tool for cognitive brain training.
Role of Nadis and Nervous System in the body
Not only this, but deep breathing during Asana practice or Pranayamas also keep your brain oxygenated which helps in balancing Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) and Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS). SNS prepares the body for intense physical activity, where as PNS relaxes the body. In yogic terminology, asana practice with deep breathing results in the equilibrium of three important Nadis (Ida, Pingala and Sushumna).
Once again, don’t believe just, give a try for yoga and stay sharp and cool.