Have you ever asked yourself this one question – “Am I happy?” or have you ever tried to find ways to be happy in your life?
In the race of chasing for dreamy life, the essence of happiness is somewhere lost. The real reason is it doesn’t come from materialistic things. It is always there within us, the task is just to find it. No home, no job, no person can keep you happy. It’s you who can do it.
It’s based on how our hormones are formed and react in our bodies. Our body produces chemicals, which are based on two factors. External – the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink. Internal – our thoughts. None of the above is in our control except the food we eat. Based on such, our body produces hormones and gives us different feelings of pain or happiness. These are the emotions which we feel in our daily life. One such hormone is serotonin which is a neurotransmitter.
Serotonin – “A FEEL GOOD HORMONE”
It’s involved in many processes throughout your body from mediated satisfaction, happiness, and optimism to promoting smooth digestion. Serotonin levels are reduced in depression. There are medicines and supplements available to boost. The easy and effectual ways are sunlight, food, and yoga. However, you can’t directly get serotonin from food. But, you can get tryptophan. It is an amino acid that’s converted to serotonin in your brain.
It is to be noted that tryptophan is found primarily in high-protein foods. On the other hand, yoga is a science that harnesses the innate capability of the body to improve its powers and functioning. Studies have proven that yoga escalates the levels of serotonin. Yoga practice also boosts the amount of tryptophan. The fact is this effect persists even after exercise.
According to Princeton neuroscientist Barry Jacobs, Ph.D., lower levels of serotonin can affect our mood. This can leads to depression. “Depression sets in when fewer and fewer new brain cells are created. It is a process that is mediated by serotonin. Here, the stress and age are being the leading trigger”.
Yoga and Meditation help the body release serotonin naturally.
Yoga is a physical exercise that involves different body poses, breathing techniques, and meditation. The therapy may help with depression and your symptoms, such as difficulty concentrating or loss of energy. Meditation helps bring a person into the present moment and allows them to clear their minds. Controlled, focused movements also help strengthen the body-mind connection.
Yoga asana can directly increase the firing rates of serotonin neurons. It leads to the result in increased production and release of serotonin. In addition, there is an increase in the levels of tryptophan (precursor of serotonin) after yoga.
Scientists at the University of Montreal have shown that activities like Mindfulness Meditation have a direct impact on the brain’s production of serotonin levels. It does so by reducing the grey matter density of the amygdala and the right prefrontal cortex. It is the brain regions responsible for initiating stress response. Meditation also increases activity in the happiness producing regions of the brain: the left prefrontal cortex.
Apart from depression, disruptions in serotonin levels can impact cardiovascular functions and bowel functions. Any disruption can lead to insomnia.
Yoga is especially helpful because of its gentle, calming, and fluid nature. Each pose is flexible, so people of all levels can practice. Your instructor will emphasize breathing, concentration, and smooth movement. They will also encourage you to focus on positive images to calm the body and mind.
The following are some effective yoga practices to boost serotonin:
It has been recommended to practice sun salutation while facing the rising morning sun which rises from the east. It’s very important to maximize your exposure to the bright light of mid-morning to increase serotonin.
We also do the same with meditation. By making sure that we face East we ensure that the morning sun hits the pineal gland. When we practice in the early morning the sun has the capacity to balance serotonin.
- Releases negative emotions like anger, agitation, frustration, and anxiety.
- Improves concentration and memory.
- Builds confidence.
- Stretches the spine and helps relieve stress.
- Relaxes the mind by removing negative emotions like irritability and anger.
- Regulates and normalizes the functioning of the thyroid and parathyroid glands.
- Nourishes the brain as more blood reaches the pineal and hypothalamus glands.
- Helps improve all cognitive functions.
- Strengthens and stretches the neck and spine.
- Relaxes tight muscles.
- Improves blood circulation to the brain.
- Helps calm the brain and the nervous system, thereby reducing anxiety, stress, and depression.
Yoga brings about measurable changes in the body’s sympathetic nervous system – the one charged with propelling the body into action during the “fight or flight” response to stress.
Yoga also boosts levels of feel-good brain chemicals like GABA, serotonin, and dopamine. These brain chemicals are responsible for feelings of relaxation and contentedness, and the way the brain processes rewards. Therefore, all three neurotransmitters are the targets of various mood medications like antidepressants (e.g., SSRIs) and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) drugs.
Yoga actually stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. Thus, it calms us down and restores balance after a major stressor is over. Blood is directed toward endocrine glands, digestive organs, and lymphatic circulation with the parasympathetic nervous system in gear. Meanwhile, heart rate and blood pressure are lowered. Hence, our bodies can better extract nutrients from the food we eat and more effectively eliminate toxins. With its activation, the body enters into a state of restoration and healing.
It is important to understand that yoga, meditation, and food will only help you if you are looking for real happiness. The one which is inside you. One can achieve authentic happiness only by achieving a peaceful state of mind.