Long-Term Effects of Yoga
“I feel like I woke up to the true possibilities of my life when I turned fifty-five and began a daily practice.” My practice keeps me centered and aware of my feelings, so that when bad things happen – and you can pretty much count on that after fifty- I no longer react by falling into a depression.”
Studies in the West that adequately discuss the long-term benefits of Yoga are still being completed. It is understood that Yoga encourages participants to “intentionally face and move into difficulties and discomfort, and to develop a decentered perspective on thoughts and feelings, in which these are viewed as events in the mind.” Instead of feeling the compulsion to react, the practice of Yoga enables us to slow down the impulsive reaction and more calmly respond.
According to one study, Yoga does make a significant difference in the emotional well-being by “relaxing chronic muscle tension and reducing unnecessary muscle activity, restoring natural diaphragmatic breathing, and improving oxygen absorption and carbon dioxide elimination (which facilitates concentration and respiratory control). All these factors directly impact the autonomic and the central nervous systems, giving a logical explanation for the improvement of symptoms.” In addition to the relaxation effect documented in studies throughout the world, the studies show improvement in memory, cognitive functioning, perceptual-motor skills, muscle power, and visual perception, indicating that Yoga practitioners are more alert and able to focus than are control groups who either exercised or did not alter their physical routine.
It is theorized that sunlight stimulates the pineal gland in the brain, which activates certain body chemistry. In the winter, when there is little sunlight directed toward the pineal gland, a seasonal depression can set in. Yogic practices that focus the energy on the crown of the head, inverted postures, special breathing exercises, visualizations, or by sounding certain tones, can directly stimulate the pineal gland. This stimulation, much like the success of phototherapy can activate the body chemistry to aid the body.
BOOK – “Yoga for Depression” by Amy Weintrab