As the International Yoga Day is approaching on 21st June, it’s the time to again roll out the Yoga mats, perform some regular asanas and boasting about pictures of your healthy life on social media and among your group. But in reality, shall yoga be limited to this day only? Is yoga worth to be a part of our routine life? Have you heard the popular slogan- ‘Yoga se Hoga’? Well, it’s true and we will justify this slogan on the notes of chemistry, that is, how actually yoga changes the chemistry of the brain for better health, both physically and mentally. But firstly, we as Indians should be proud of receiving the wealth of Yoga as a beautiful gift from our ancestors.
What is Yoga?
The word ‘Yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Yuj’, which means unity, to integrate or bind. Yoga was originated in India and has been practiced since then, 5,000 years from now. It is a classic approach to maintain the right balance of physical, mental, and spiritual health.
Most people think that Yoga is all about flexing and stretching your body into different positions and shapes for the motive of keeping the body flexible and physically fit. But Yoga does a lot more to your body instead of physical fitness. It focuses on synchronizing the body with mind and breath by performing various poses (asanas), breathing exercises, and meditation.
How Yoga promotes a sound mental Health: The Chemistry behind Yoga
For several years, Yogis are aware that performing asanas, breathing exercises and meditation helps in improving the state of the body and brain. It helps in reducing stress and anxiety, which ultimately improves the overall mood. At this stage, Neuroscience comes into the picture to demonstrate how exactly yoga affects the chemistry of the brain. So, let’s take a look at what happens to our brain when we perform yoga on regular basis.
According to research showcased at the Annual Neuroscience Conference, Yoga increases the grey matter in our brain. Now, what is a grey matter? There are two types of matter in our brain- grey matter and white matter. Grey Matter consists of neurons and brain cells. Its actual color is not grey, it is pink in color but after an individual dies, it becomes grey. The grey matter is responsible for the majority of functions of our brain, including our memory and learning capability. It is also responsible for our muscular control and functioning of our senses such as sight, smell, hear and touch. White matter is responsible for the connection of brain cells. It helps in connecting different sections of our brain, thus allowing them to send and receive signals. However, both of these matters are important for the effective functioning of the brain. Damage in any of the matter will affect our cognitive and thinking abilities. The Intelligent Quotient (IQ) of a person is directly proportional to the volume of grey matter present in the brain because of the higher number of brain cells. Practicing yoga on regular basis increases the density of grey matter which helps us in increasing our concentration and focus, provides better control over our senses and also helps in improving our decision-making ability.
Apart from these two matters, there are two other chemicals in the brain that are affected by practicing Yoga on regular basis. These chemicals are as follows: –
1. Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) (Chemical Formula- C4H9NO2)
2. Serotonin (Chemical Formula- C10H12N2O)
Chemical Structure of GABA
Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) is made up of glutamate in brain cells and is the neurotransmitter that acts as a chemical messenger for the central nervous system. A lower amount of GABA will impact mental health and give rise to various disorders such as anxiety, stress, and depression. Researchers state that performing Yoga on daily basis can help increase the level of GABA in the brain. After 1 hour of a Yoga session, there is an average increase of 27% in GABA levels. Thus, performing yoga regularly helps in overcoming anxiety and stress issues.
Chemical Structure of Serotonin
Serotonin is beneficial in multiple ways for our body. It is the key hormone responsible for our feelings, mood, and happiness. It also helps in the digestion and sleeping process. If our brain has lower levels of serotonin then it may lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. A 30-minute yoga session can increase the levels of serotonin in our body.
Thus, knowing about the above reactions in our body, we can conclude that Yoga helps in changing the chemistry of our body for sound mental and physical health. It helps to keep us in a better mood and also helps in dealing the stressful situations effectively. As we are now aware of the mechanism of Yoga in our body, we should start adopting this beautiful practice in our daily lives. This International Yoga Day, gift yourself with physical strength and a peaceful mental state by performing Yoga. Make it a habit because now we know Yoga se Kaise Hoga!
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