Without doubt, people are the happiest when they have a good physical and mental health, as well as quality relationships with partners, family, and friends, as studies indicate. What’s more, financial issues are not decisive in how much a person is happy, but it is rather the emotional connections and health that play a role.
According to yoga proponents, daily yoga practice may also play a vital role in one’s health and consequently, overall happiness. Yoga teaches us that who we are is larger, grander, and more connected than we have ever dreamed. Doing yoga, as noted on Kino Yoga, gives us the opportunity to master the game of life and be happier. Let us learn how.
What Is Yoga?
Yoga is a philosophy which started in India approximately 5,000 years ago and Patanjali is considered to be the father of classical ashtanga yoga. He has also written the Yoga Sutra, a scripture with bodywork aimed at spiritual growth and mastery over the mental and physical body.
According to Healthy Celeb, yoga is one of the least consuming and least painful physical practices and it brings harmony between the body, mind, and spirit. In ancient times, yoga referred only to sitting body postures whereas modern-day yoga encompasses both sitting and standing poses. Cyndi Lee points out that the word yoga originates from the Sanskrit word yuj which means to “yoke or bind” and it is interpreted as a union or a method of discipline. A male who practices it is known as yogi whereas a female is known as yogini.
Nowadays, yoga is a program comprised of physical postures whose purpose is to cleanse the body, strengthen it, and supply it with the required stamina for longer periods of meditation. It is also worth mentioning that there is not just one type of yoga, but various, i.e. from more spiritual and relaxing to more demanding and athletic.
Who Can Do Yoga?
As explained on Yoga by Nature, the beauty of yoga is in its availability for everyone, regardless of age, gender, or physical limitations. This personal practice is centered on teaching the individual how to remain in the present moment and it excludes any judgment and competition. Yoga also allows modification in poses to meet one’s needs (due to injury or a disease). No matter if you want to be stronger, improve your flexibility and balance, better your focus and concentration or sleep better and be more energetic and less stressed, yoga is the way to go.
How Can Yoga Make You Happier?
According to Nataly Kogan, the advantages of doing yoga have been known by yogis for years and years; however, contemporary research has proven its positive effects on one’s physical and psychological health. Here are the major ones:
- Changes in brain chemistry
Within only several hours of yoga, the GABA levels in the brain elevate; they have to do with the reduction of depression and anxiety rates.
According to research, controlling one’s breathing contributes to reduction in stress and higher focus on the present moment; In turn, this boosts the feeling of satisfaction.
- Better posture, better mood
By improving your posture through yoga (lengthening the spine and standing up straight), you will also better your mood, as claimed on Happier. This is because yoga makes the brain-body connection stronger, i.e. the body informs the brain in a way that makes it feel stronger and create more positive thoughts.
Studies have shown that people who have been doing yoga for a longer period of time reported feeling healthier and happier and experiencing fewer negative emotions such as anger, tiredness, and anxiety. This is a result of the genuine biochemical changes taking place during yoga that enhance both the physical and mental health, as Kogan points out.
According to a Healthy Celeb, people who do yoga feel more relaxed after a session due to the decrease of the cortisol which is the stress hormone. Although happiness stands for a variety of things, ultimately, to maintain this state of mind we need to feel calm and relaxed, among other things.
As seen on Gaia, a weekly yoga session has the power to decrease pain in the lower back even better than other therapies like exercising and meds. What’s more, yoga is highly recommendable for people who have spine curvature associated with osteoporosis and fibromyalgia. Frequently, people associate pain, especially chronic one, with unhappiness because it is a loss of our magnitude and when we fail to address it properly, it can turn into depression, as pointed out on Everyday Health.
- Lowers the risk of heart problems
A study done in 2014 showed that the adult participants who did yoga experienced improvements in weight, body mass, cholesterol, and blood pressure when compared to the group who did not do yoga. This data is significant for the cardiovascular health.
If you want to put an end to smoking, you should try yoga because it may suppress the strong cravings and it can further lower the negative stress and other effects arising from the cessation of the habit. What’s more, according to a study on the relationship between happiness and smoking cessation among parents, it was concluded that those who managed to quit reported feeling happier than the other group who did not quit. Further studies should be focused on finding the causes for the elevation in happiness.
Final Thoughts of the Impact of Yoga on Our Happiness
Even though we all have our own definition of happiness, there are specific aspects in our lives that make us feel happier and those that make us less happy. As optimal health is one of the major contributing factors to a feeling of well-being, it seems quite reasonable to opt for yoga as it can elevate our contentment by preventing chronic illnesses, reducing chronic pain, minimizing stress, and by helping us have a better mood and a more positive outlook on life. Since unhappiness is often associated with bad habits like smoking and mental health problems like anxiety and depression, it can be of great aid to start doing yoga and quit smoking easier and battle anxious and depressive mood naturally.