Why You Should Start Yoga and Meditation
by Laurie Larson
As we rush through the stressors and demands of our daily lives, we can sometimes feel as if we’re running in circles to tie the loose ends hanging over our heads. Despite all of the time and energy we dedicate to work, family, and other obligations, it often seems like everything is out of balance.
That’s where yoga and meditation can come into play! Yoga and meditation can help us regain a sense of meaning behind our actions and feel more in control of how they affect us.
Let’s look at some specific benefits of meditation and yoga and why you should consider adding the activities to your day.
Benefits of Yoga
Research has shown that yoga is effective in promoting relaxation and reducing stress. This is due to its ability to decrease the production and secretion of the primary stress hormone cortisol. One study measured the effects of yoga on stress in 24 female participants who considered themselves emotionally distressed. After three months, participants’ levels of cortisol were significantly lower, as were their levels of anxiety, stress, and fatigue.
Including yoga in your daily routine can promote a more restful sleep, especially when practiced before bedtime. Yoga helps wind down both your body and mind, making the perfect concoction of spiritual relaxation before you rest. Those who regularly practice yoga have reported having an easier time both falling and staying asleep at night.
One study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine found that weekly yoga practice decreased pain and improved mobility more than medical care alone in patients with chronic lower back pain. In addition, a meta-analysis of 17 studies including over 1,600 participants showed that yoga practice improved daily function in those with osteoporosis and fibromyalgia, as well as elevating mood and improving psychosocial well-being.
Benefits of Meditation
Meditation reduces stress and relieves symptoms of anxiety in the same way that yoga does – it decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol and how this increases the release of cytokines, which contribute to inflammation, disrupt sleep, and contribute to anxiety. In addition, research has shown that meditation can improve the symptoms of stress-related conditions, including PTSD, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome.
A type of meditation practice known as self-inquiry meditation focuses on developing a better understanding of yourself and how you relate to others. In addition, there are other forms of meditation that help you transform negative thoughts into more constructive ones. Becoming more mindful of who you are and more aware of how you can and do contribute to the world is a great start for making many positive changes to your behavior, including how you react to negative situations.
In short, yoga and meditation will help you feel better overall. In the broader scope, they allow you to experience the present moment, improving focus and the ability to accept things that you cannot change, as well as improving your ability to change the things you can. So why not start today?