I do yoga almost every day.
I’m convinced that these 50 minutes of Zen prevent panic attacks, muscle stiffness, irritability and other symptoms I generally associate with family reunions. Something about communicating with my body and pushing myself without pain makes me feel like life may not actually be so hard.
Thanks to the lovely folks at Forbes, I now have the science to understand why. Yoga has virtually infinite impact on a practitioner’s physiology. It impacts the body’s regulation of cortisol, endorphins and serotonin—all those nifty chemicals in your brain that can either make you happy or screw you over completely.
I’m for the first option. Practicing yoga regularly changes the body’s sympathetic nervous system (this is the system in charge of our stress response). Because of whacked out modern schedules that often tamper with our bodies’ natural rhythms, the stress response can stay in the “on” position for hours at a time. Yoga helps your body realizes that there is still peace to be found. It can also keep the parasympathetic nervous system in tip-top shape, which means that your body will absorb nutrients better, eliminate more toxins and improve circulation.
And thus Western science proves what Eastern medicine has known for thousands of years. Do yourself a favor. Do some yoga.
If you are so inspired, consider running a free yoga clinic for battered women and children in your area. I did this several years ago and the results were life-changing for me as well as the participants. For people who have experienced far too much stress and pain to even comprehend, yoga can provide a physical, mental and emotional healing unsurpassed even by medicine and counseling. Give peace by putting the restorative power of yoga in someone’s own hands.
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