The Science of Yoga In Stress Management

How does yoga work in stress management?

To answer this question, you first have to understand the science of yoga in relation to stress response.

The human brain has two main parts that affect reaction to stress:

  • The emotional brain
  • The logical brain

The emotional brain consists of the amygdala and its connected parts and the structures of the media forebrain where the medial prefrontal cortex is also located.

The logical brain is made up of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex along with the subsequent aspects of the prefrontal cortex and some areas of the hippocampus.

When you are under stress, the emotional brain responds through the sympathetic nervous system. It results to the racing of adrenaline and cortisol into your circulation.

The logical brain functions contrary to the emotional brain.

The logical brain curtails the stress response of the emotional brain. As an antithesis of the emotional brain, the logical brain restricts the mechanisms of the emotional brain. The logical brain can be cultivated to have more capabilities to restrain the emotional brain.

How does relaxation take place during a stressful situation?

It happens when the stress response of the emotional brain is turned off and the signal of the parasympathetic system is turned on.

Relaxation takes place when the logical brain is in control. You can turn on and turn off the stress response and relaxation signals through their switches. These switches are found on the pathways of the stress response and relaxation circuits along the body. An example is via the carotid arteries found in the neck. You can find the stress response and relaxation circuit switches in this location.

How does yoga work in relation to stress response and relaxation?

When you do yoga, you are actually conditioning the whole stress circuit in two ways. When you stay still and focus or are assuming a balanced posture in yoga, you are activating your logical brain.

Relaxation is being stimulated as you turn on the switches in the neck when you bend forward. The logical brain gets an extra challenge if you bend on your back and tighten your muscles while staying still and concentrating to achieve a yoga posture. In this regard, the logical brain is being trained like a muscle as it works against the resistance.

Assuming yoga postures gives your brain a workout. It instills relaxation as it buzzes with activity and keeps the emotional brain quiet. Having done yoga for a significant period of time results to a rewiring of the linking nerves within the emotional brain.

A new circuit is developed that enables you to control your thoughts more easily. Your mind becomes more pliable wherein you can direct your thoughts according to your will and not to dwell on negative experiences. This is why many people suffering from anxiety and depression find relief in doing yoga. It shuts off their tendency to think about negative life events.

As you develop stronger circuits in your logical brain, you put a lid on the stress response of the emotional brain. That’s why yoga can be an effective technique for battling stress.

In yoga, you attempt to assume a structured set of postures according to a well-planned sequence. Each of these postures is achieved by doing a long hold.


This intricate performance of yoga will balance your stress and relaxation responses. Incorporate yoga into your lifestyle as an alternative exercise regimen or a stress reduction routine. Yoga is an ancient practice but its premises and principles remain relevant to the modern lifestyle.


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