“If you consciously let your body take care of you, it will become your greatest ally and trusted partner” – Deepak Chopra
Yoga bliss, yoga stoned, yoga euphoria, that drool worthy feeling after transitioning from a pose or from a yoga class. If you’ve ever experienced it, you know how mind-blowing it feels both physically and spiritually.
Yoga as a science – Documented research has shown yoga boosts the levels of the feel-good brain chemicals like GABA, serotonin, and dopamine, which are responsible for feelings of relaxation and contentedness, and the way the brain processes rewards. The lack of or overproduction of these chemicals can lead to treatment via various mood medications like antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs to maintain equilibrium in the brain and body. The fact that yoga is linked to improved natural stimulation, levels, and usage of these coveted chemicals is nothing to sneeze at. Additionally, yoga stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms us down and restores balance after a major stressor is over. When the parasympathetic nervous system switches on, “blood is directed toward the brain, endocrine glands, digestive organs, and lymphatic circulation, while the heart rate and blood pressure are lowered. With parasympathetic activation, the body enters into a state of restoration and healing.”
Breaking this down further, let’s explore basic tenets of each and every yoga class, which can lead to this yoga blissed/stoned or euphoric feeling:
Breathing – Most of us don’t breathe correctly. For most healthy folks, it’s not like we forget to breath, but the challenge is doing it correctly to ensure full expansion of the lungs to properly oxygenate our systems and remove waste. When breathing correctly, our brain is stimulated and releases dopamine, our naturally made feel good hormone. This in turn can create a blissful and/or euphoric feeling. Yoga, focusing on the proper breathing or breath manipulation (pranayama or breathing technologies), will help with this release.
Alignment – Consciously or unconsciously, we have habits that lead to poor alignment in our body structure. How do you sit when texting? How do you stand when waiting in line at the store? Is the spine straight, the head on as nature intended it, are the hips aligned, is one arm hiked up more than the other? Poor alignment root causes can be habitual or induced from stress or injury. Yoga, focusing on alignment, can help us get back to how our bodies are intended to be structured, and this simple action of proper alignment and/or guided movements in alignment can lead to that feeling of euphoria as the body is not in a ‘stressed’ alignment. In other words, your body is simply THRILLEDyour standing tall or sitting well!
Relaxation – In our modern world, how often do you really relax? I’m not talking about those nights you plop in front of the TV with a Netflix marathon (no judgement here, trust me). I mean intentionally turning off as much stimuli as possible, both internal and external, and simply be? Purposely taking the body out of the fight or flight mode, into relax and rest, triggers the parasympathetic nervous system. By enabling this trigger, allowing the body and mind to feel safe brings us back to balance, allowing all the juicy feel good brain chemicals to flood the system and elevating us to a point where you might feel you are walking on air!
Taking time to connect with your body – Feeling all the feels. When was the last time you really checked in with your body? And not just looking at that thing on your toe while in down dog…. but felt how amazing your body is, what feelings rise up, and how it’s doing. When was the last time you examined how your thighs feel when you’re in a forward fold, or how your fingers feel in mountain pose? You’ve been rocking this incredible system since your grand arrival in the world, take time to check on how it’s doing, and give it a high five for taking such good care of you.
Our bodies are simply phenomenal. Regardless of whether we take good care of it or ignore it, the biological miracle of the human body and life is pretty dope. When we consciously nurture our body, plus mind and spirit, allowing the biological and chemical processes to occur as intended, we are rewarded by the flood of all the feel goods. This my friends… is what yoga stoned is all about.
“The biochemistry of the body is a product of awareness” – Deepak Chopra
Meditation and Yoga can Modulate Brain Mechanisms that affect Behavior and Anxiety-A Modern Scientific Perspective – Divya Krishnakumar, Michael R Hamblin, Shanmugamurthy Lakshmanan
Penetrating Postures: The science of yoga – Alice G Walton
The science behind the yoga high – Sarah Dittmore
One Simple Thing – A new Look at the Science of Yoga and How it Can Transform Your Life – Eddie Stern
The Healing Self – Deepak Chopra MD and Rudolph E Tanzi PhD
Invincible Living – Guru Jagat