I missed this article when it came out in September on Psychology Today. The author, Alex Korb, is a neuroscientist.
Yoga can supposedly improve depressive symptoms and immune function, as well as decrease chronic pain, reduce stress, and lower blood pressure. These claims have all been made by yogis over the years, and it sounds like a lot of new age foolishness. Surprisingly, however, everything in that list is supported by scientific research.
It may sound like magic that posing like a proud warrior or a crow could have such extensive effects, but it’s not magic. It’s neurobiology. This next statement may sound to you either profound or extremely obvious, but it comes down to this: the things you do and the thoughts you have change the firing patterns and chemical composition of your brain. Even actions as simple as changing your posture, relaxing the muscles on your face, or slowing your breathing rate, can affect the activity in your brain (beyond, of course, the required activity to make the action). These changes are often transient, but can be long-lasting, particularly if they entail changing a habit. read more here
I suggest you keep reading his article and follow the link as he points out that yoga is, among other things, just another way of being mindful and it therefore can be translated to the rest of your life.
It has been with this intuitive understanding that I’ve been pursuing yoga as part of my rehab. Yoga is ideal for rehab as one can start while still in bed. It’s really ideal for any fitness level at all, as the sky is the limit once one gets fit. For rehab, it not only strengthens my body very gently and at whatever pace I can go, but it also deeply engages my mind and brain. I’ve written about my experience with yoga a number of times:
I found a short standing morning wake-up routine recently that I really like too. I do it at any time of the day. I still can’t do it everyday or often I do half of it. This is actually a very intense workout at this time. For me it’s all about baby steps. I can do it some of the time and more and more often though usually only part of it. It’s here:
There is another simple floor routine I like here. It’s restorative yoga. Very gentle. A good one to do when in pain:
Sometimes I do a few minutes of yoga several times a day. Other times just a stretch here or there when needed. The more one tunes into the body the more one can just do what is needed when it’s needed while also working up to longer and harder workouts.