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The practices of yoga and meditation date back thousands of years and remain popular today. Both yoga and meditation are intended to encourage relaxation and clear the mind. Qualified nutritional therapist and personal trainer Bernard McGowan believes that the practices of yoga and meditation can be a great way to unwind, relax and refresh the mind.

What Is Yoga?

Yoga is an ancient practice that revolves around bringing together the mind and body. The practice incorporates controlled breathing exercises, meditation and poses that – when combined – are designed to relax the body and reduce stress.

The moves involved in yoga focus on strength, flexibility and breathing. The practice originated in India more than 5,000 years ago and is now commonplace in modern fitness and wellness regimes.

Individuals might find themselves drawn to yoga for multiple reasons. It can be used alongside an existing exercise regime to improve flexibility and balance, as part of a physiotherapy plan for someone recovering from an injury, or even for its holistic and lifestyle benefits.

The Benefits of Yoga

Many individuals who take up yoga do so for the potential mental, spiritual, and physical benefits. Yoga helps to relax the body, which can lower stress, improve mood, and improve the immune system.

Studies have shown that practicing yoga can help to reduce the amount of cortisol, the stress hormone, that the body secretes. The same study also found that the individuals with lower cortisol levels had lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. Yoga encourages the importance of finding a sense of peace and enjoying the present moment, which can help individuals suffering with anxiety.

The relaxing effects of yoga go beyond mental health benefits. Relaxing the body can help to alleviate chronic joint pain and even reduce headaches. The different poses can improve flexibility and increase muscle tone. Studies have even shown that yoga can improve heart health. There is some evidence to suggest that practicing yoga can also reduce inflammation, improve quality of life, relieve migraines, and promote better sleep quality.

What Is Meditation?

Meditation is a practice that many are taking up as part of a lifestyle aimed at improving overall well-being. Meditation is a form of training that helps to reduce worries whilst encouraging happiness and contentment within practitioners.

Meditation can help practitioners to become more aware and observe without passing judgement. The practice encourages a state of deep relaxation and contentment that is more than simply time alone with one’s thoughts.

The Benefits of Meditation

Even in its most basic forms, meditation helps the body and mind to relax. Something as simple as taking deep breaths to calm down in a stressful or tense situation is a basic form of meditation.

One type of meditation that can provide a great deal of mental benefits is Vedic meditation. Please see the embedded PDF for more information on getting started with this specific type of meditation.

Stress is something that many individuals experience regularly and adopting meditation can help to alleviate the symptoms. Meditation has been shown to release positive hormones such as serotonin and oxytocin that help to naturally combat stress. With practice, meditation can help to boost the brain’s neuroplasticity, which is its natural ability to adapt to and learn from new experiences.

The relaxation that meditation encourages can help lower blood pressure, boost the immune system, and reduce tension-related pains such as headaches and muscle fatigue.