Yoga and Cognitive Behaviour-Why Yoga Can Help Us Make Better Choices
I was contemplating whether I should write an article about my yoga journey in general or whether to give you some perspective and advice about why we should practice yoga not only for physical or spiritual reasons but also in order to create healthier habits. I decided on the latter because I think we don’t talk much about the effect yoga has on our habits. We see it as a rather physical or spiritual tool but we forget the effect it has on our choices at a practical and emotional level. I’m practising yoga for 13 years now. I remember the very first time I stepped into a yoga class in a gym in Amsterdam. There were way fewer yoga studios back then but plenty of yoga classes in mainstream gyms. I remember it was a power yoga class and I instantly loved the teacher, Monica. I was hooked. Since then there were times I wasn’t very loyal to my practice but every time I was going back to yoga, I was instantly rewarded.
What do I mean by that?
When I was practising consistently (not necessarily more than twice a week) I was very conscious about my daily choices. Like I was more conscious of how I felt after work, or what I’d eat for dinner, or how I’d communicate a message to people. And I don’t mean that I was becoming a more spiritual and grounded human but that I was choosing “better” things for myself and so for others. Caring more for myself, looking to improve, searching for answers and listening to my body (that sounds like a cliche but it’s exactly what it is about) changed my overall behaviour for the better.
Following what I thought to be a self-discovery and wondering whether this behavioural improvement was just a personal win I started looking for research or any scientific evidence that could back up my empirical findings. And it is out there. A research paper published by Frontiers in Human Neuroscience provides some minimum proof that yoga can help with behavioural regulation. The time and the consistency play a role on the effect yoga has on behavioural processes but there’s some small emerging evidence that there’s a connection between our nervous system, our behaviour and our yoga mat. Systematic testing is still needed and the framework should be used as a starting point for further research but these are good findings for us yoga teachers and fitness professionals.
And so I always say to my students that we practice yoga not only because we want to be physically and spiritually fit but also because we want to gain emotional stability. Yoga can help us make the right choices, develop healthy habits, set goals and achieve them.
Are you looking for a fitness productivity trainer at workplace? Or would you like to offer yoga workshops for your employees, organise a yoga team event? Visit my corporate yoga and events page and get in touch to talk details. I’d love to work with people and organisations looking to invest in their clients’ well-being and productivity.
This article was first published for the printed Asana Journal.