Call Us Today +44 20 8452 8322

Understanding The Science Behind Yoga

Understanding The Science Behind Yoga

The benefits of yoga are countless and diverse, including everything from stress reduction and pain relief to improvements in cardiovascular health and flexibility. Although yoga’s origins can be traced back more than 5,000 years, modern studies into the science behind yoga are finally unravelling the mysteries behind its transformative impact on our minds and bodies. Breathe® specialises in personalised yoga and meditation instruction, providing a targeted approach to improved well-being.    

The Science Behind Yoga 

Stimulates The Parasympathetic Nervous System

The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) is responsible for our body’s ‘rest and digest’ response. It operates in opposition to the sympathetic nervous system, which is primarily responsible for our ‘fight or flight’ response. The PNS is activated during periods of relaxation and recovery, slowing our heart rate, constricting our pupils and stimulating our digestive processes. 

As we explore the science behind yoga, we learn how the practice serves as a powerful catalyst in stimulating the PNS, encouraging a state of deep relaxation and equilibrium within our bodies. Deep, diaphragmatic breathing helps to activate our parasympathetic response, triggering a cascade of physiological activity, including lowered heart rate and decreased blood pressure. As yoga encourages our minds to focus on the present moment, this further promotes a state of calmness as it reduces our stress hormone levels. The combination of these practices creates a harmonious environment for the PNS to prevail, improving our relaxation, restoration and overall well-being.

Lowers Cortisol 

Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, is regulated by our adrenal glands and plays a key role in our body’s stress response. Yoga has been shown to lower cortisol levels through its emphasis on stress reduction techniques such as deep breathing, meditation and relaxation. By activating the PNS, yoga counteracts cortisol release. Additionally, the mind-body connection developed by yoga enhances awareness, positively influencing how we perceive and respond to stressors.

Furthermore, a sustained stress response, characterised by increased cortisol levels over a period of time, can act as a biomarker for conditions such as depression, cardiovascular disease and infertility. An exploratory study found that yoga and meditation significantly reduced levels of cortisol and cellular ageing, both of which are strongly linked to lifestyle diseases such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

Increases Grey Matter 

White matter and grey matter are two distinct components of our brains. Grey matter, often referred to as our brain’s ‘thinking’ tissue, contains nerve cell bodies and is responsible for processing information and making decisions. On the other hand, white matter consists of nerve fibres covered in a white, fatty substance called myelin. These fibres act as communication cables, connecting different parts of our brains and allowing them to share information. 

MRI research has found that people who meditate regularly show significantly larger grey matter volumes in the orbitofrontal and hippocampal brain regions, which are implicated in emotional regulation and response control. This increase in grey matter may allow meditators to cultivate positive emotions and reduce stress levels. Further research into the science behind yoga has found that practitioners show greater grey matter volumes in the frontal, limbic, temporal and occipital brain regions, which suggests that yoga practice is associated with neuroplastic changes in executive brain systems. 

Personalised Yoga And Meditation With Breathe®

Our personalised yoga and meditation classes offer a tailored approach to enhance your mental and physical health. Unlike mixed classes, our customised sessions take into account your individual needs, fitness level and specific goals. This optimises your benefits by ensuring that the practices align with your personal preferences and health conditions. Personalised instruction also allows for adjustments and modifications based on your physical abilities, preventing injury and accommodating any existing limitations. We offer classes in person anywhere in London or online globally. 

Get In Touch

To experience the benefits of the science behind yoga for yourself, contact Breathe®. Our expert instructors create customised yoga and meditation sessions that enhance your mental and physical well-being. Call +44 20 8452 8322 or email to arrange your first session. Your path to wellness begins with Breathe®. 

Accept Cookies

We use cookies to personalise content, provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media and analytics partners who may combine it with other information that you’ve provided to them or that they’ve collected from your use of their services. By using this website, you agree to the use of cookies as stipulated in our privacy policy.

Accept Cookies