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Slow Practices: The Science Behind Yoga

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The science behind yoga mightn't be as sexy as those intricate yoga poses you've seen on Instagram, but it does help to explain why the ancient eastern practice has become so on trend in the western world of wellness. 

Once a month at Bob, the tables are dragged to the side, the lights are dimmed, the candles are burning, and our yoga pants are on. We breathe, we move, and we stretch, and by the end of class, our clients seem to feel that little bit lighter and more relaxed.

With this in mind, we did some research, and our theory on the benefits of yoga stacks up in the world of science. Here, we share three mental benefits from a regular yoga practice backed by science (and we have a feeling we'll see you on the mat at Bob soon).

Slowing the aging process

Ever laughed at your instructor telling you that hanging out in viparita karani assists in reversing the effects of aging?

In a study that won the Nobel medicine prize in 2009, “scientists at the University of California at Los Angeles and Nobel Prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn found that 12 minutes of daily yoga meditation for eight weeks increased telomerase activity by 43 percent, suggesting an improvement in stress-induced aging,” according to Bloomberg.

We are writing the rest of this article in viparita karani, feeling youthful as hell, if you were wondering.

Source: Bloomberg

Meditation can improve happiness

Participants in a seven-week lovingkindness meditation course reported increases in experience of joy, gratitude, and hope, according to a study held by psychology professor Barbara Fredrickson and her colleagues at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and the University of Michigan.

According to the study, samples also reported greater levels of life satisfaction and self-worth, and experienced fewer signs of illness and depression.

Source: Yoga Journal

Staying sharp with yoga, meditation & the breath

Research by Chantal Villemure and Catherine Bushnell of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Bethesda, Md. used MRI scans to detect gray matter, or brain cells, in brain areas in people who have a regular yoga practice, versus those who do not.

“We found that with more hours of practice per week, certain areas were more enlarged,” Villemure says, according to an article published in Scientific American.

According to the article, written by Stephani Sutherland on the findings of the report:

“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.”

According to the report, yoga was broken up into 70% physical practice, 20% meditation and 10% breathing exercises.

Source: Scientific American

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