Daily yoga and meditation can be beneficial for anyone. You don’t have to be a spiritual person or subscribe to a particular lifestyle. Yoga and meditation can bring tangible benefits to your life whether you’re a surfer or a CEO.
Yoga and meditation originally come from the Hindu and Buddhist religions. Over the last 50 years, they have become secular, worldwide practices backed up by a wealth of scientific evidence. A neuroscientist from Harvard Medical School, Sarah Lazar, has conducted studies proving meditation can literally change the way your brain works.
Here are three science-backed reasons you should do yoga and meditation daily:
1. Reduced stress
Humans have evolved to deal with acute stress, which is stress brought about by a sudden, momentary crisis. But when it comes to chronic stress we don’t cope as well. This is stress brought about by constant daily pressure from demanding jobs, lives, etc.
This means we need to find techniques and practices that can help our minds and bodies cope with chronic stress. Stress is a mental condition but has physiological symptoms. When we are stressed out our muscles become tight, heightening our feelings of tension. Daily yoga practice can help keep our bodies relaxed and healthy, thanks to the stretching involved.
As we become stressed our bodies produce the hormone cortisol, which can wreak havoc on your system if it too high for too long. Studies have shown that yoga can reduce the amount of cortisol we produce. Meditation allows us to use deep breathing and mindfulness to help us find clarity and a way out of stress.
2. Improved sleep quality
Sleep quality is important if we want to be at our best. There are many things that can have a negative impact on our sleep. Stress, overthinking, and physical discomfort can all cause our sleep to suffer. Too much blue light (such as that emitted from smartphones and tablets) can worsen our sleep. We need a better night-time routine than just scrolling through our phones. Meditation can help with this as it can help us focus our minds and produce a sense of serenity before we drift off.
Practicing yoga before going to bed has been proven to increase the production of melatonin in our bodies, a chemical needed for a good night’s sleep. Speaking of sleep quality, candles, diffusers and comfy pj’s are some of my favorite things to get a good night’s rest.
3. Improved focus
With a 24-hour news cycle and a million and one notifications coming through on our phones, there is a lot competing for our focus. Many of us suffer from decreasing attention spans. This can cause many problems. We must give our full focus and attention to pressing concerns. Otherwise, we cannot perform at our best and solve problems.
Yoga and meditation teach us to focus our attention on our breathing. This can be a useful technique to learn when distractions happen. By having a daily meditation practice, returning your attention to your breath becomes instinctive. This way, when something takes you off task, you will automatically focus back on your breathing, making it easier to return to the task at hand. Brain scans carried out by the neuroscientist Giuseppe Pagnoni have proven that meditation improves focus.