Everyone understands stress, and most people experience it at some point in time.
Worrying about experiencing the same types of stress again is not an uncommon source of anxiety. When anxiety reaches extreme levels or begins to interfere with your normal life, you may want some help.
There are several ways to deal with stress and anxiety. Holistic methods like yoga and meditation may be a good place to start for many individuals, especially if they want to avoid prescription medication.
Yoga is a form of physical therapy that can be practiced alone and at home. It is easy to learn and requires no special equipment or significant expenses like travel or protective attire. You can learn basic yoga techniques online if you don’t have time for formal instruction or can’t find classes in your area.
Yoga is a discipline, and the frequency of practice and how you practice will depend on your determination and, to some extent, on your physical abilities. It is adaptable, and even people with limited mobility may practice yoga.
When practiced mindfully, yoga may improve circulation and flexibility and help you think more clearly.
Classic yoga practice involves holding poses and stretching (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), and meditative exercises. You may perform yoga poses for physical exercise, but you may be missing out on the deeper physical and mental benefits of yoga if you skip breathing techniques and meditation.
Meditation calms the mind and may provide you with moments of tranquility that you can use throughout the day. Just like the poses become easier over time, meditation is a discipline that becomes easier the more you practice, and the benefits will increase.
Yoga practice exercises your brain in a way that promotes the release of neurotransmitters, endorphins, and hormones. These include the following.
Dopamine and Serotonin – So-called “happy hormones,” these two chemicals influence feelings of happiness and more. Dopamine has a role in coordinating movement and feelings of reward and satisfaction.
Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) – GABA acts as a regulator of feelings of fear and anxiety, lessening their effect. Increased levels of GABA are associated with regular yoga practice.
Acetylcholine – This neurotransmitter is needed throughout your body. It aids with breathing, circulation, and more. It can influence learning, movement, and sensory gating, or the ability to discern between important and unimportant stimuli.
Cortisol – This hormone is released during stress. Regular meditation may decrease its production.
Melatonin – This hormone is produced by your pineal gland. It can be detected at higher levels in people who practice meditation compared to those who do not. This hormone helps your body regulate sleeping patterns.
Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) – BDNF is a protein used by the brain for functions that require learning. From swinging a hammer to proofing an algebraic equation, BDNF allows the brain to grow and absorb new lessons, adapt, and develop. It is important for neural development, differentiation, and plasticity of the cerebral cortex.
Some physical changes are common among those who regularly practice yoga and meditation. Some of these changes may be noticeable in a few weeks and others may take years to develop.
Breathing – Practicing yogic breathing exercises, or pranayama can strengthen the diaphragm. This may make breathing easier, increasing oxygen intake.
Improved flexibility – The poses promote circulation and can lead to strengthening your joints. Stronger, healthier joints can increase mobility and range of movement.
Better posture – A good posture reduces physical stress, putting less strain on the back. It is key to avoiding some discomforts like neck or shoulder strain and can help prevent some back problems from occurring.
Increased grey matter – Studies have shown that yoga and meditation can change your brain, adding more grey matter. This may be due to the wide variety of chemicals released in the brain during meditation. Most of the increase seems to occur in the frontal lobe, the cerebral cortex, and the hippocampus.
The benefits of practicing yoga and meditation may include the following:
Better emotional control.
Increased impulse control.
Improved ability to concentrate.
Improved sense of rewards and consequences.
These benefits may lead to better outcomes elsewhere in life. For example, clearer thinking can help with diverse problems like what to fix for dinner, finding the best way to resist a negative influence, overcoming writer’s block, and more.
Yoga enthusiasts have used supplemental herbs to enhance meditation for generations. These products include the following:
Ashwagandha – This herb is part of traditional Ayurvedic medicine. It may enhance meditation by making it easier to put the mind into a tranquil state. You can find this supplement in many different forms, including capsules, powders, and liquids.
Kratom – Kratom contains alkaloids that may provide a variety of mental and physical benefits. These alkaloids interact with receptors in the brain that may influence many metabolic processes, including the immune system, the pain response, and the ability to focus and concentrate.
Cannabis – The calming effects of THC, CBD, CBG, CBN, and other cannabinoids in cannabis are well researched. The right strain of cannabis flower used during meditation may promote grounding and help to still the mind. CBD extracts may perform the same function.
Using supplemental herbs to enhance yoga and meditation can be unpredictable. If you want to work a supplement into your yoga sessions do so with care and only if you understand how that supplement affects you. Cannabis in particular is one supplement that is highly strain dependent, with users noting very different effects between sativa and indica strains. Without understanding these qualities some supplements may make it more difficult to meditate.
Yoga is a discipline and consistency is key, so maintaining a regular schedule of practice is the surest way to see a payoff. But you don’t have to be a yoga master to benefit from yoga. Many people notice positive changes after just a few yoga sessions.
Yoga, with or without supplements, can lead to many improvements in quality of life. Better flexibility, easier breathing, and easier relaxation may reduce physical stress, and the mental benefits of meditation may help to defuse anxiety, making difficult situations less stressful.
Readers, please share your tips and tricks for mindfulness, meditation, and what herbal nootropics help you reach your enlightenment goals. Get ready to get heavy here in the comments or in our third-eye-vision forum.