Even though meditation was linked to religion almost exclusively until recently, today it is widely practiced across many countries and different cultures with therapeutic and relaxation purposes. Generally, the goal is to achieve a state of consciousness in which your mind is calmed and your body relaxed.
There are different types of meditation, including religious and secular, but what they all have in common is narrowing focus that shuts out the external world. Studies show that meditation can alter brain structure in several ways, for instance, it can prevent stress and reduce feelings of fear and anger.
Meditation and yoga are closely related since they share the same purpose of cultivating the mind, body, and spirit through a mental state of inner awareness. Yoga is commonly perceived as a series of positions you do with your body, but this conception limits its benefits to the physical ones when actually, yoga can help your mental and emotional health as well.
If you want to start practicing yoga and meditation, don’t give it a second thought! Here are 5 benefits you can get through them.
1- It Helps Reduce Stress Levels
Exercising, in general, can help you manage stress, given that it releases endorphins which increase your feelings of well-being. Meditation and yoga are not the exceptions, actually, they provide extra help for reducing stress levels since besides exercising your body through physical poses, you are focusing only on the connection between your body, mind, and spirit, shutting external stimuli off.
This state of awareness can help you learn to live in the present and not to worry too much about things you can’t control, thus learning to manage potentially stressful situations in a calmer manner. Also, yoga and meditation are based on conscious, diaphragm breathing, which balances the nervous system and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
2- It Boosts your Immune System
A recent study found that practicing yoga can result in changes in gene expressions that can improve your immune system at a cellular level. This study also found that it doesn’t take long for it to work: researchers believe the changes happened while participants were still on the mat. In addition to this, it has been proven that mindful meditation increases antibodies in your system, whichise fundamental in fighting diseases.
Yoga and meditation can boost your immune system just by improving your overall well-being. They provide a natural way of supporting it since they help to lower stress hormones which may be harmful to your immune system, it stimulates the lymphatic system to eliminate toxins from the body, and conditions your lungs and respiratory tract.
3- It Helps you Sleep Better
Studies show that yoga and meditation are related to better sleep because of the breathing techniques they use, which, as mentioned before, help in relaxation and reduce stress levels. If you’ve ever had trouble falling asleep it may have been because you couldn’t stop your mind from worrying about the future or overthinking the past.
Focusing on your breathing and bringing your mind’s attention to the present helps evoke a relaxation response, which can help you fall asleep easier and sleep better through the night. There are many mindful meditation techniques you can use, but it can be as simple as laying in silence, closing your eyes and visualizing a nice scenery while consciously breathing from your diaphragm (your belly).
4- It Can Help you Fight Addictions
Mindful meditation, yoga, and other spiritual practices can help you fight an addiction. In fact, there are many alcohol and drug rehabilitation programs that include meditation in their processes.
Research shows that yoga can be a good complementary therapy for addiction, seeing that it promotes direct attention towards yourself and your health and acknowledging the spiritual aspects of your nature. This state of self-awareness learned through yoga and mindful meditation can target several psychological, neurophysiological, and behavioral processes implicated in addiction and relapse.
For example, when you retrain your mind through mindfulness practice, you create new neural networks, which means you can change certain aspects of yourself, like having a more positive attitude or learning to control better your temper, which can go a long way in making recovery easier and staying sober.
5- Low Blood Pressure
High blood pressure affects approximately 1 billion people, resulting in 7.5 million attributed deaths per year. Meditation and yoga have been proven to help in lowering blood pressure levels due to their ability to reduce stress, which is closely linked to hypertension.
Also, a recent study shows that mindful meditation stimulates genes that produce telomerase – an enzyme linked with reduced blood pressure and mortality.
These are only 5 of the innumerable benefits meditation and yoga can bring to your life. It doesn’t take long before you start experiencing transcendent changes in your overall physical, mental and emotional health as well as in your attitude and disposition.
Anyone can practice yoga and meditation and there are many different techniques from which you can choose the one you find suits you best. These practices may be the way to becoming a better, more healthy version of yourself.
Do you want to start practicing yoga and meditation? If you have any questions, please leave a comment below.