Yoga provides the tools to break thought and emotional patterns that no longer serves us. We have three structures within our brain:
- The instinctual brain (brain stem), which asks “Am I safe?”
- The emotional brain (limbic system), which asks “What am I feeling?”
- The thinking brain (frontal cortex), which asks “What does it mean?”
Under stress/anxiety, we may have an overactive emotional brain. Signals from our amygdala (the fear centre of your emotional brain) encourage fight or flight responses from our instinctual brain, causing the stress response to override the relaxation response. When this happens often, our thinking brain is less effective at regulating. Yoga – asanas, pranayama and meditation – invites the thinking brain to better regulate mood and emotional states amidst stressors in our life.
Did you know?
Researchers found that eight weeks of mindfulness meditation enabled people to better reduce fear-related amygdala activity. They believe that somatic practices (or movement practices that emphasize perception) are useful for people to process trauma without re-triggering because they help us release tension held in the body.