5 Reasons I love practicing Yoga and the science behind it

Aktualisiert: Feb 21

The physical practice of yoga has been a trend for years and it seems like it hasn't reached its piek yet. I am amazed by super crowded yoga classes even here in Berlin at the early morning hours not later then 06.45AM. No wonder a lot of practitioners feel drawn to a daily practice: Yoga makes us feel alive. The physical practice keeps us happy and healthy and this is not only because we can feel it. By today Science has proven many of these facts!

These are my Top 5 reasons on why I love the practice of Yoga. And I give you guys many reasons to understand that these feelings are felt within the body but are proven by science as well.

1. It uplifts my mood

You probably have heard that Yoga is supposed to make you more happy. And YES, it does! In 2010 Science Daily writes about "Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) that have have found that yoga may be superior to other forms of exercise in its positive effect on mood and anxiety." The researchers followed two different groups for a period of 12 weeks. One group practiced Yoga three times a week for an hour. The other one went for walks for the same time. "Each subject was also asked to assess his or her psychological state at several points throughout the study, and those who practiced yoga reported a more significant decrease in anxiety and greater improvements in mood than those who walked." The team said this result is linked to "climbing GABA (gamma-aminobutyric) levels"

2. I am connected to myself on a deeper level

This has to do with the overall decrease of the stress level. Even if you just practice about 15 minutes per day! The mix of asana practice, breathing techniques and meditation help to regulate the heart-rate variability (HRV). This means the heart rate is lower, giving body the ability to respond to stress in a more flexible way.

You are calmer and more relaxed and less stressed because you are more connected to yourself. What I have noticed over the past 15 years that I have been practicing is the fact that Yoga allows me to take all the energy that I am creating into my daily life. The calm breath as I am flowing through my yoga practice to help me stay within my practice is reflected in stressful moments in life and the reminder to stay with my calm breath to allow my nervous system to relax. Or all these trial and errors when I am trying to stay in a pose and fall out. In life it isn't any different: You try something, you fail and you start fresh.

3. I feel and I look younger

Its a fact! Yoga makes you feel younger and also, your skin looks younger. As you move your body, you are creating energy and that energy creates heat in the body. Your blood is pumping through your veins, you are building muscles which keeps your skin toned and smooth.

"As you get older, you lose lean muscle mass—as much as 15 percent per decade if you're not active," says Vonda Wright, MD, an orthopedic surgeon and the author of Fitness After 40. But doing yoga plus other strength exercise at least four or five times a week helps slow this loss so that even a 60-something can have as much lean muscle mass as someone 20 years younger, she adds.

Yoga is also especially good at battling the sag that comes as time marches on, notes Janiene Luke, MD, associate professor of dermatology at Loma Linda University in California. "The skin is like a drape for the underlying musculature," she says, "so if those muscles are toned, you'll look firmer and your skin will be less baggy."

“Yoga is not a religion. It is a science, science of well-being, science of youthfulness, science of integrating body, mind and soul.” ― Amit Ray, Yoga and Vipassana: An Integrated Life Style

As you practice yoga, you are not only creating change within your physical body. A lot is happening mentally as well. And even this is scientifically proven:

"In addition to keeping your body young, yoga turns back the years on your brain, too. In one 2017 study published in the journal International Pschogeriatrics, older adults (over age 55) with mild cognitive impairment spent 12 weeks either practicing Kundalini yoga or memory training. While both groups’ memory improved, the yoga group saw a boost in executive functioning and emotional resilience, possibly due to the chanting in this yoga that strengthens verbal and visual skills, the researchers report.

Additional observational research on mindfulness and meditation (both are large components of yoga) sheds light on how classes may actually influence your brain structure, says Greenberg. (Research on yoga alone is limited, but you can make some inferences by looking at meditation studies, he notes.) Studies looking at how the brain changes before and after meditation found that brain structures involved in awareness, attention and self-related thinking changed in structure and increased in volume, he says. Plus, there’s your memory. “After eight weeks of meditation training, research found that the hippocampus, which is involved in learning and memory, developed more gray matter density,” he notes.

Finally, there’s the fact that yogis tend to have a cooler reaction to problem events — and you’re left wondering how they do it. As Greenberg points out, those who meditate have larger right insula (the portion of the brain that involves body awareness). That’s a good thing. “It’s important when you encounter a stressful situation. Knowing your reaction to stress can help you identify the emotion, nip it in the bud and prevent it from escalating,” he says. Your amygalda — the reptilian part of your brain that reacts to fear —may also decrease in reactivity in response to stress. How’s that for a zen attitude?."

4. I feel stronger - Mentally and physically

Yes, as you establish a regular practice you will feel that over time you build physical strength. This physical strength is going to spread its energy throughout your mental health, meaning you will feel more empowered, your self esteem will rise, your concentration levels will sharpen.

Again, this is different for everyone: Some might feel these mental changes right away. For others it might take a while these effects comes to surface. Fact of the matter is though: Yoga has the power to change you: It can change the way you feel about yourself and your surroundings. It can change the way you perceive things. It might make you understand yourself better.

This article outlines the topic and the scientific background on what exactly happens in the brain and what changes inside the brain as you practice yoga on a physical base.

"Yogis had larger brain volume in the somatosensory cortex, which contains a mental map of our body, the superior parietal cortex, involved in directing attention, and the visual cortex, which Villemure postulates might have been bolstered by visualization techniques. The hippocampus, a region critical to dampening stress, was also enlarged in practitioners, as were the precuneus and the posterior cingulate cortex, areas key to our concept of self."
5. It fills me with deep love

I cannot live without practicing yoga! Literally I am sure that over time it would physically and mentally cripple me if I didn't step on my mat once a day. Taking all of these arguments into account that I have listed here in this article, the physical practice of yoga also has a magical part to it that maybe cannot be scientifically proven: It makes you fall in love with yourself. When I close my eyes and I follow my breath as I am moving my body I am deeply connected to myself, to myself as a physical form and to me as connecting with and actually being the whole universe.