New Research Investigates How Yoga Promotes Happiness

By Amy Taylor on June 14, 2017

You know that yoga is good for you. It stretches your muscles, corrects your posture, and boosts your blood flow. More than that, yoga makes you happy too. Yes. That’s because of the practice’s psychological benefits.

Yoga for mental health

Yoga is an ancient technique that involves held poses, regulated breathing and meditation techniques. Numerous studies have shown that yoga promotes both physical and mental health. It alleviates chronic pain, boosts blood flow especially to the heart (thereby reducing risk of heart disease), and can lower risk of artery disease, asthma, diabetes, breast cancer and other diseases. Moreover, yoga has been proven beneficial for people suffering from anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia and other mental health disorders.

It is well-established that yoga practise benefits healthy individuals by improving well-being, self-esteem, and satisfaction feelings. It also reduces stress and performance anxiety, promotes positive emotions, and boosts one’s energy levels.

The new study, published in the journal Frontiers, compared the effect of three yoga poses – tadasana, urdhva hastasana and garudasana, and two ‘low power’ poses. They found that after performing two yoga poses our participants felt more energetic, empowered, and in control than those participants who performed power poses. Feeling energetic directly affected their confidence and feeling of satisfaction with themselves regardless of their initial levels of self-esteem.

Researchers say that these psychological benefits can be linked to a common mechanism: the functioning of the vagus nerve which connects the brain. Apart from connecting facial muscles, heart, lungs, digestive tract, kidneys and reproductive organs, it also plays a key role in operating the parasympathetic nervous system which includes the feed-and-breed and rest-and-digest processes, and also regulates heart rate, and promotes calm and soothing states. They note that proper functioning of the vagus nerve promotes emotion regulation, social competence, and prosocial behaviour, and dampens aggression, hostility, depression and anxiety, thus – increasing our happiness level.

Source of this article:

Yoga Poses Increase Subjective Energy and State Self-Esteem in Comparison to ‘Power Poses’

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