Yoga and Physical Activity

I always say that exercise is the best medicine -

In addition to physical benefits, exercise has many mental and emotional benefits. Physical activity releases chemicals in our brain such as Dopamine, Serotonin, and Endorphins which work as natural antidepressants. While all types of exercise are beneficial, yoga in particular is a powerful tool as it incorporates pranayama, which is breathing techniques. Research has shown that yoga helps us transition from our amygdala (fight-or-flight response) to our prefrontal cortex (problem-solving and regulating emotions), so that we are able to maintain self control and rational thinking. In addition, physical activity supports a mind body connection that is crucial in understanding and managing physical manifestations of emotions (such as stomach issues, headaches, tight chest, racing heart, etc.)

How we treat and take care of our bodies has a huge impact on mental, emotional, and physical health. Below are resources to help educate, motivate, and hold yourself accountable. ​

Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

This link includes educational information, as well as tips to get started.

Worksheet provided by therapistaid.com.

Hacking Into Your Happy Chemicals: Dopamine, Serotonin, Endorphins, & Oxytocin

"Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin, and Endorphins are the quartet responsible for your happiness. Many situations can trigger these neurotransmitters, but instead of being in the passenger seat, there are ways you can intentionally cause them to flow.Being in a positive state has significant impact on your motivation, productivity, and wellbeing. Here are some simple ways to hack into your positive neurochemicals."

Take a Stand for Yoga Today

"There is a growing body of research to back up yoga’s mental health benefits. Yoga increases body awareness, relieves stress, reduces muscle tension, strain, and inflammation, sharpens attention and concentration, and calms and centers the nervous system.Yoga’s positive benefits on mental health have made it an important practice tool of psychotherapy. It has been shown to enhance social well being through a sense of belonging to others, and improve the symptoms of depression, attention deficit and hyperactivity, and sleep disorders."

Yoga for Anxiety and Depression

"Available reviews of a wide range of yoga practices suggest they can reduce the impact of exaggerated stress responses and may be helpful for both anxiety and depression. In this respect, yoga functions like other self-soothing techniques, such as meditation, relaxation, exercise, or even socializing with friends. By reducing perceived stress and anxiety, yoga appears to modulate stress response systems. This, in turn, decreases physiological arousal — for example, reducing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and easing respiration. There is also evidence that yoga practices help increase heart rate variability, an indicator of the body's ability to respond to stress more flexibly."

How to Do Yoga for Depression and Anxiety (and why)​

"Yoga has proven beneficial for reducing depression and anxiety. Learn how to do specific yoga poses recommended by an instructor of yoga teachers."

Yoga and Mental Health: How It Helps Depression and Other Conditions

"Yoga can help quiet the mind, alleviating the worries and stress that plague our day-to-day lives. But the benefits can also extend to more serious psychological issues."

Yoga and the New Science of Pain

"The more accurate, updated physiology of pain presents an eye-opening new paradigm with far-reaching implications for how we see and approach the body in therapeutic settings. And interestingly, these new insights about pain are consistent with classic yogic teachings about our innate mind-body connection. In this article, I’ll offer an introduction to this fascinating new science so that we can learn to take a smarter approach to the experience of pain."

Just Breathe: Body Has A Built-In Stress Reliever

“Deep breathing has been scientifically proven to affect the heart, the brain, digestion, the immune system -- and even the expression of genes. Research has shown that breathing exercises can have immediate effects by altering the pH of the blood, or changing blood pressure. But more importantly, they can be used as a method to train the body's reaction to stressful situations and dampen the production of harmful stress hormones. Rapid breathing is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system. It's part of the "fight or flight" response -- the part activated by stress. In contrast, slow, deep breathing actually stimulates the opposing parasympathetic reaction -- the one that calms us down. In his new book, Relaxation Revolution, Benson claims his research shows that breathing can even change the expression of genes. He says that by using your breath, you can alter the basic activity of your cells with your mind.”

The Importance of Physical Activity with Children

Below are links regarding utilizing yoga with children and the connection between core muscles, motor skills, and concentration.

Yoga Helps Children Manage Emotions

"Are you looking for a simple way for your children to unwind and get in touch with their emotions? The yoga mat can serve as a retreat from the pressures and stress that they face every day. Yoga offers so many incredible benefits to our children including a time for inner focus, to connect to their bodies, and even to enjoy a bit of silliness to lighten the moment."

Five Ways to Help Children Manage Emotions

"Sometimes we need to help children manage emotions. Young children are more influenced by their ’emotional brain’, than their ‘logical brain’ and often experience BIG feelings."

Five Simple Ways to Help Children Calm Angry Feelings with Yoga (free printables)

"Let’s imagine our children using yoga poses and the power of their breath to release their anger. Teach this yoga sequence below when you and your child are both calm and happy. Once you are both comfortable with this anger-reducing yoga sequence, it’ll be easier to go through the flow of the yoga postures when you start to feel the signs of anger."

Why these Core Muscle Exercises Help Prevent Learning Challenges in the Classroom

"A problem I am often asked about is why their child can’t attend and focus in the classroom. Usually they are clumsy, they run into walls or furniture, they fidget in their chairs, lean over their desks, and they can’t process what their teacher is saying because they are focused on other distractions in the classroom. These can all be issues related to their vestibular system, which is their balance and coordination. When we see these issues, we know the child isn’t getting the movement they need to help improve their inner ear and core muscle. To perform well in an educational environment, kids need to strengthen their motor skills and core muscle to manipulate a writing instrument, control their eye movement to track words on a page, and calm their bodies so they can attend and focus on the instructions the teacher is giving."

Recommended Reading, "Natural Prozac"

Natural Prozac: Learning to Release Your Body's Own Anti-Depressants

By Joel C. Robertson

About the Book:

Scientifically proven and easy to follow, Dr Joel Robertson’s groundbreaking lifestyle program makes a significant advance in treating and overcoming depression and its debilitating effects without drugs. With more than 21 million people now using Prozac and other anti-depressants worldwide, this book comprises an enormous breakthrough: an all-natural method anyone can use to regain control of their physical and emotional health.Robertson, an expert in pharmacology and brain chemistry, has been using this method with remarkable success for more than twenty years. His approach uses the body’s own natural chemistry to restore the brain’s chemical balance and end the dangerous cycle of negative thought patterns and behavior that cause depression to recur. With detailed instructions on developing a tailored program of diet and exercise, new techniques for understanding and breaking free of negative habits, and targeted exercises for burning up self-destructive chemicals. Natural Prozac gives every depression sufferer a new option.

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