To stay as healthy as possible, you must work out your body as well as your brain. Yoga provides the most basic and yet most comprehensive workout for body and mind. By combining yoga and meditative practices, you can help calm an overactive brain and engage muscles that don’t get attention during a busy week in an office.
Worrying about the future, and about bad things that have not yet happened - and probably won’t - happen causes anxiety. The practice of yoga and meditation affect the way your body feels and help combat that anxiety. By concentrating mindfully while holding a yoga posture, or by focusing on your inhales and exhales, you keep yourself firmly secured in the present moment – which is a very yogic practice.
There are many stressful situations we encounter every day, and practicing mindfulness helps create a healthy emotional distance from distressing thoughts. In the same way, the regular practice of yoga – even in as little as fifteen minutes – helps us deal with the physical manifestations of stress and anxiety.
Changes in your feelings and thoughts, when faced with any situation, are an emotional reflection of what is physically happening in your brain. By working toward a deeper mindfulness and meditation practice, the part of the brain that helps replace the feelings of worry with rational thought – the ventromedial prefrontal cortex – can activate more readily. Your brain is then trained to become better at controlling your reactions – situations that would normally cause your stress levels to rise will be handled more efficiently.
Your body is affected by meditation and yoga on a chemical level as well. GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is a neurotransmitter which calms the brain. Participating in a yoga class or a guided meditation have shown in many studies to significantly increase your levels of GABA.
When you’re feeling worried, the best thing to do is practice a few yoga postures, or take a few minutes of silent meditation to calm yourself and lower your present anxiety. To have a longer-lasting effect on your tendency to worry, though, consider adding yoga and meditation to your daily routine. Regular practice will help lower your baseline emotional arousal level so that when you’re challenged by a bad situation or a negative thought comes up you’re able to confront it with patience and curiosity rather than a negative reaction.
In short, a regular yoga practice that is augmented by meditation will help you feel like a happier, healthier person because you can handle the daily ups and downs more easily.