You know there is a strong connection between the mind and the body. Notice how you feel physically after a great yoga class. And think about how much stronger, more flexible, and leaner you are now than you were when you started practicing. (If you don’t notice changes like this, stick with it; you will!) Did you know yoga can also improve your mood?
The goal of yoga is to calm the mental chatter in the mind. This has a grand purpose (union with the divine energy of the universe), but it’s also practical. If you’re anxious, do some yoga. When your energy is low, do some yoga! If you’re sad, roll out your mat. You’ll see exactly what I mean.
How Yoga Can Improve Your Mood
When we talk about mood, we’re usually talking about emotions. But what are emotions? They’re messages from your brain that you feel in your body. Your braining is giving you information about something going on in your life. If you’ve been hurt, for example, you feel sad. Sadness can feel like fatigue. Anger becomes a pounding heart and tense muscles. Joy fills us with energy, and contentment feels like calmness and clarity.
All of these feelings can be managed with yoga.
What You Feel in Your Body Starts in Your Mind
Yoga can improve your mood in a few ways. First, it can help you be more aware of your current mood in the first place. You can’t change what you’re not aware of. And since emotions begin as thoughts, learning to notice your thoughts will change your mood.
Mindfulness, a key “yogi skill,” is one of the best ways to learn to notice your thoughts. The practice of mindfulness teaches you to notice without judgment. First, you learn to accept what you notice without being in a rush to change it. Then your thoughts and the emotions your thoughts create change!
Physical Ways Yoga Will Improve Your Mood
Remember, we feel emotions as physical sensations in the body. There are two specific ways yoga affects emotions. First, the practice creates physical changes that affect emotions. If you do an energizing practice when you’re feeling down or sad, you’ll probably feel better. If you’re stressed or anxious, a gentle flow and breathing exercises can calm your racing heart and relax tense muscles.
Yoga can also improve your mood by changing your brain chemistry. Studies show that chemicals called neurotransmitters, which regulate mood, are boosted with a regular yoga practice. Yoga can also boost levels of other brain chemicals that affect feelings of well-being, including endorphins, theta waves, and beta waves.
Over time, a regular meditation practice can improve energy, boost your mood, and give you a feeling of inner strength. Combined with the physical practice of yoga, meditation can help you feel more confident and calm. Positive emotions will replace negative emotions.
In other words, yoga really can improve your mood!