How Yoga Changes Your Brain When You Commit To Practicing Every Day

By
Ad failed to load

If you've ever been to a killer yoga class, you know how absolutely amazing you can feel after a rejuvenating, hour-long flow. With typical forms of exercise, those good feels are often limited to just your body, but what makes yoga truly unique is the positive effects the practice has on both your body and your mind. A number of studies have shown how yoga changes your brain, proving that this ancient practice extends far beyond the physical body.

In Sanskrit, yoga means "union" — a union between the physical body and the inner workings of your mind. During a yoga session, deep inhales and exhales are used to link each of your movements with your breath, making the practice a truly moving moment of meditation.

Incorporating just a few minutes of yoga into your routine can provide you with an extensive amount of mental health benefits, and these mindful movements have even been shown to be a natural remedy for anxiety and stress.

Ad failed to load

Now, this doesn't mean that hitting up a single vinyasa flow is going to melt away all of your stresses for the rest of your life. But making time for a daily practice can truly teach you how to cope with uncomfortable and unpleasant situations that may have otherwise been pretty difficult to deal with.

From deep, expansive breathing, to mastering downward facing dog, here are five ways yoga can change your brain when you practice every damn day.

Ad failed to load

1It Majorly Decreases Stress

Making yoga a part of your daily routine increases the amount of gamma-aminobutryic acid (GABA) neurotransmitters in your brain. The release of GABA regulates your normal brain activity. Basically, the impact that an hour-long practice has on your brain's GABA levels has the power to squash any overwhelming feelings of stress or anxiety, and make you feel completely blissed out.

So, if you just can't quiet the internal chatter going on in your brain, and you feel totally frazzled, going to a yoga class would be a great remedy for temporary stress relief. However, if you practice every day, even for just a few minutes at a time, you'll notice your stress levels are easier to manage over an extended period of time. If that's not motivation to roll out your mat ASAP, I don't know what is.

2It Helps You Feel Calm, Yet Alert

Giphy

According to NBC News, a daily yoga practice trains your body to reduce the sympathetic nervous system (SNS, which controls your fight-or-flight response) and increase your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS, which is what helps you relax in the face of stress). This means that consistent yoga flows can teach you to be be as chill as that one time your friend gave you a piece of her next-level edible.

However, as amazing as it feels to be super calm, cool, and collected, no one wants to feel totally zen and mildly stoned 24/7. Yoga is all about balance, and the practice teaches you how to activate your SNS just when you need it, allowing you to stay sharp, yet serene overall.

3It Builds Healthy Tissue In Your Brain

Giphy

If you've ever had a nagging pain in your lower back, or an annoying ache in your neck, and then realized how much better you felt after a simple yoga sesh, you can thank all of the amazing gray matter that your practice is continually building in your brain.

Research shows that people with chronic pain and depression have decreased amounts of healthy gray matter present within their brains. However, daily down dogs, tree poses, and meditation have the power to act as natural painkillers and reverse symptoms of pain and depression.

So, over time, getting on your mat each day will help you feel happier, balance out your emotions, and increase your pain tolerance — brain gains FTW, y'all.

Ad failed to load

4It Improves Your Memory

Giphy

It's pretty much unavoidable that your memory and cognitive function will naturally decline as you get older. However, yoga comes to the rescue yet again by literally making your brain function as if it were years younger than you actually are.

NBC News reports that participants in a study who did yoga and meditated for just eight weeks showed significant developments in the hippocampus area of their brain, which is responsible for memory and learning skills.

Namastay on my mat, like, every day for the rest of my life.

5It Boosts Your Self-Esteem

Giphy

I can assure you, the fact that you feel on top of the world and incredible in every way after hitting up a class at your favorite yoga studio is no coincidence.

A 2009 study from Deakin University in Australia prescribed a 12-week yoga program to women struggling with binge-eating to monitor the effects of the practice on their behavior. At the end of the program, the women demonstrated higher levels of self esteem, as well as overall better body image.

Bottom line: The research doesn't lie, and the results are astounding. But again, you'll only really reap these incredible benefits of yoga by showing up on your mat every day. Think you can do it?

Ad failed to load

Must Reads

13 Must-Have Experiences You Should Buy In Your 20s, Instead Of A New Couch

Life is one big experience. When you hit your 20s, though, you start getting pulled in the direction of your responsibilities. It isn't totally a bad thing, but you don't want to get so wrapped into adulting that you forget life's zest. Amazing exper…
By Jasmine Vaughn-Hall

I Tried Kim Kardashian's Weird Beauty Obsession & I Can't Stop Taking Selfies

You've been there before: You're scrolling through your Instagram feed when you see your favorite celeb post about their favorite new product — a face serum, vitamins that will make your skin brighter, or a specialty food service. You can't help but …
By Stephanie Montes

Where You Should Vacation This Summer, According To Your Zodiac Sign

Summer is so much more than just sweating in 90 degree weather and enjoying a long, lazy break from school (if you're lucky enough to still be in school). It's a time for making exciting new plans, falling madly and hopelessly in love, opening your m…
By Roya Backlund

Wander or Bust: The Amalfi Coast May Just Be The Most Beautiful Thing You'll Ever See

Wander or Bust is an Elite Daily travel series that follows young women all over the globe to record their journeys as they experience the thrill of the far-flung and unknown. They'll track their budgets, where they stay, where they eat and drink, a…
By Kaylin Pound

6 Brutally Honest Phases Of Life After A Breakup, Because You Will Survive 

If you've ever been through a bad breakup, you know that the struggle is real. For the weeks (or possibly months, if it was a really bad one) that follow, life can be rough, but there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Don't believe me? Just l…
By Rachel Shatto

Here's How You Can Find Out What Your Aura Color Is

Do you remember that movie Almost Famous? More specifically, the scene where William is trying to have a phone call with his mom, but a clairvoyant Band-Aid keeps shouting "Your aura is purple!" in his face? Well, that was the first time I had ever h…
By Roya Backlund

9 Women In Their 20s Reflect On The Advice They Wish They Had At Graduation

Graduating college can feel seriously scary. You've spent your entire life in school, working and preparing for the moment you enter the real world, but what happens when you get there? What if things don't go totally according to plan? You may have …
By Brittney Morgan

3 Early Signs You Are Going To Have Undeniable Chemistry With Your Crush

I don't know if there's anything better than the excitement of having a new crush — especially when that feeling's reciprocated. The butterflies that rush through your stomach as soon as they enter a room. The electricity that zips through your veins…
By Genevieve Wheeler

A Dentist Reveals The Best Times To Brush Your Teeth & It's Actually So Surprising

Do you brush your teeth twice a day? If you do, you're already way ahead of me, since I usually forget about brushing my teeth before bed at least three out of seven days of the week. I'm so bad about remembering to brush my teeth before bed, that I'…
By Caroline Burke

Emoji Pool Floats Are Here To Match Every Mood You’re In This Summer

Searching for the perfect poolside accessory to lounge around in this summer? This year’s hottest warm weather water trend isn’t a big floppy hat or designer sunglasses — it’s an emoji pool float. That’s right: Your favorite little digital expression…
By Rachel Murphy

Here's How Your Mood & Your Favorite Music Are Secretly Connected, According To Science

If you're someone who's likely to be found with ear buds in her ears at all times, you might not realize just how often you listen to music, or the ways in which it's really affecting you. From your morning commute to the tunes you blast while you co…
By Caroline Burke

This Is How Long It Takes For A Partner To Really Trust You, According To Experts

Trust is easily one of the most important parts of a healthy relationship, but typically, it's not something that's fully there from the start because it takes some time to build. How long it takes for a partner to trust you is a question that doesn'…
By Tayi Sanusi

7 Things You Forgot To Thank Your High School Friends For & Should ASAP

Friends are a dime a dozen, but a solid, genuine group of girlfriends can be difficult to come by. When you find your tribe, you need to stick with them until the end. For some lucky people, your high school friends have been your besties since day o…
By Rachel Chapman

These 3 Zodiac Signs Will Have The Best Week, So Bask In The Glory

It's officially the second week of May, and the warmth of spring has finally arrived. The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and the bright weather is allowing everyone to finally break out their favorite pair of shorts. If you think the gorgeou…
By Roya Backlund

7 Men Reveal What Attracted Them To Their Last Crush & They'll Make You Swoon

He reminded me of Nate Archibald from Gossip Girl. That's legitimately what I found appealing about my most recent crush. Sorry, but it doesn't get any deeper than that. In other instances though, when I'm not trying to live out my lustful, adolescen…
By Sydnee Lyons

A Relationship Expert Reveals His Long-Distance Relationship Survival Guide

"Long-distance relationships are extremely relaxing and easy to navigate," said no one in a long-distance relationship ever. Whether you are bicoastal babes or a quick two-hour train ride apart, distance makes the heart grow fonder, but it also makes…
By Kimmy Foskett

How To Start Reading Tarot When You Have No Clue Where To Begin

I've been practicing tarot almost daily as part of my self-care routine for years. My favorite part of the day is putting on a face mask, pouring myself a blushing mimosa or some coffee, busting out a few crystals, and sitting down to spend a little …
By Minerva Siegel

This Company Is Hiring A Chief Donut Officer & I Can’t Apply Fast Enough

National Donut Day may not be until June 1, but one company is celebrating the sweet holiday a little early this year. This isn't your average discounted donut or a buy-one-get-one deal, either. Entenmann's is giving one lucky person the chance to li…
By Collette Reitz

7 Questions You Should Be Able To Answer About Your Life By The Time You Hit 30

Nobody has all of the answers in life, but you're probably pretty proud of yourself for how far you've come. Somewhere along the way, some of us got the hang of adulting and began to appreciate the unexpected things that come with being 20-something.…
By Marisa Casciano

8 Pickup Lines To Use In The Library During Finals Week To Find Your New Study Buddy

In the borderline eternity I’ve been on this planet — I’m 29, suckers! — I’ve rarely made the first move, verbal or otherwise. I admire my female friends who have no trouble approaching a person they find cute. I even admire the men who have approach…
By Kimmy Foskett
)}