When we think of how to improve our overall health, it’s important to consider developing practices that also stimulate positive mental health. Practicing yoga taps into the mind body connection that is so important for well being. The benefits of yoga are more than just increased flexibility and it doesn’t take long to begin experiencing these changes in both mind and body.

By incorporating just a two minute series of yoga poses or asanas into your daily routine, you can start to experience benefits in just 8 weeks. What are these benefits and how do they effect our overall mind body connection?

First let’s look at the connection to the body. Yoga is a low impact activity that over time increases flexibility and muscle strength which in turn yields improvement in body mass index and weight. Yoga has been proven to aid in cleansing toxins from the body, with in depth studies showing a decrease in blood pressure, heart rate and triglycerides. This, according to the Harvard School of Public Health and the Netherlands Department of Radiology is directly linked to a decreased risk in developing heart disease.

The next benefit in adopting a daily yoga practice, effects the brain and in turn your state of mind. Yoga has actually been scientifically proven to increase grey matter in the brain. This is exciting news that actually means we have the power to help prevent our brains from shrinking with age! In the long term this can have positive effects on the ability for cognitive recall, emotional regulating and learning well into our elder years.

By stimulating the left hemisphere of our brain where positive emotions are stimulated, we are not only “building” the brain, but also activating our parasympathetic nervous system, which in turn allow us to calm and relax.

Finally, the connection yoga has to the mind is an important element to living positive and more mindful life with less stress and thus a decrease in periphery health issues. The mindful breathing throughout yoga practice provides an opportunity to calm the breath and calm the “endless stream of thoughts” that comes from psychological arousal in a fast paced lifestyle. Yoga can reduce insomnia by aiding in turning off this stream.

By beginning slowly with a 2 minute daily practice that focuses on breath and movement, the benefits and mind body connection can be accessed in a surprisingly short period of time, even as soon as 8 weeks.