While it is well known that almost any type of physical exercise can lower stress hormones, yoga has been shown to be especially effective for reducing anxiety and boosting mood. Derived from the Sanskrit word ‘yuji’, yoga is an ancient practice that brings together the body and mind.
The exercises, postures and breathing techniques developed by yoga practitioners are often talked about as being beneficial for mental as well as physical health. This is primarily because it reduces the body’s secretion of cortisol, the main stress hormone.
The science of yoga
The benefits of yoga are not based on some dubious pseudoscience either. A review of 15 studies that were published in the journal Aging and Mental Health evaluated the effects of various therapies for anxiety and low mood. Techniques such as massage therapy, stress management and listening to music were included in the review. Yoga and listening to music were found to have the most profoundly positive effects of all the techniques, and yoga appeared to exert the longest-lasting influence of all of them.
Yoga has been found to raise the levels in the brain of a chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This is associated with lower levels of anxiety and better overall mood. The breathing techniques that yoga teaches have been shown to activate the parasympathetic nervous system which helps to create calmer states of mind. Yoga has also been shown to have a positive effect on patients suffering from PTSD.
Yoga for overall health
Yoga can be a great addition to the fitness and exercise routines of NHS workers. One of the great things that makes yoga so accessible is that a short session still brings great benefits. During a busy day, taking just 10 or 15 minutes to focus on a short yoga routine can relieve stress and set one up to face the challenges that the rest of the day brings.
So, whether you are suffering from stress or not, practising yoga can be a great way to take some time for yourself on a busy day. Even 10 minutes can make a huge difference to your health. Check out the range of yoga offers and other fitness discounts available to you with your NHS discount and start your journey to becoming healthier today!