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By Natalie MacNeil
No matter how much you get done a daily basis, or how long your checked off to-do list is, procrastination is a challenge even the best and most organized of us face. Of course, it doesn’t mean we’re lazy. We’re all warriors changing the world with our ideas and passion for our businesses.
Still, there are days where we wake up with an exploding inbox, or out of control to-do list, and exactly zero will to tackle any of it.
I get it, I’ve been there too.
And then it spirals, right? You procrastinate, feel off, procrastinate further, feel guilty, and before you know it you’re wrapped in your personal burned-out-but-frustrated-with-yourself cocoon. It can be so hard to full yourself out of it, but if this is something you struggle with?
You’re in exactly the right place — and today’s episode of She Takes on the World is for you.
Jim Kwik is back for the final episode of the Kwik Habits series, and this time around he’s talking about his productivity hacks, as well as how he avoids procrastination and keeps what matters to him the most in his view through it all.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it:
Try one of Jim’s many techniques for overcoming procrastination and dropping into your most productive state.
And no matter what, remember to be kind to yourself, especially when you catch yourself in a spiral like procrastination. If you’re kind to yourself when you don’t live up to your highest of expectations, you’re more likely to improve next time. As always, make one of these daily rituals and practices your own this week.
In the quest for happiness, I have come to understand it as a fleeting emotion, as fluid as tidal waters. Rather than looking outward for nirvana, I should instead seek a better sense of self. In the end, I know for sure that the only measurement that matters is my own. I do not give myself permission to measure my worth against the earthly achievements of others; that is as superfluous as it is harmful.
I have walked through many passages of life and never have I met anyone who is completely and absolutely in a constant state of euphoria or happiness. That being said, I am blessed for having met a rare few who despite the noise of the world and the scars and blooms of their own experiences, are truly at one with themselves. It is they who find the closest state to pure bliss.
Every time I have met such a person, they seemed to have the same traits:
I hope I shall find this balance of the wisdoms one day.
From where I stand, those that deny the varied degrees of darkness that molest their minds and sometimes their very souls—always seeking a distant light, always measuring always desiring—make victims of themselves. There is that terrible saying that goes: “the happier my friends the more I die.” Trying to measure one’s happiness by the rule of others can be dangerous.
Most times the best of things are right there with us, if only we did less reaching out and more listening to the voice within.
I have come to believe that it is important to see happiness not as something that is an additional benefit but an inextricable part of existence; what we value and our values are often not the same thing. There is no constant state of mind.
Another’s perceived success should not be allowed to serve as the ultimate measure of our own worth or happiness! How would one really know what history remains in their quest? Do you know where the bones may lie, or what tears have fallen?
To my mind, any sense of enduring happiness is much more about benevolent values, things that don’t disarm or harm. A person’s fame or another’s wealth does not make him special, just different. I am different and unique and so are all others. Whether one is very public or considers themselves an unknown is of no real consequence.
Only you—and you alone—know who you really are. You have the power of self. Social measures are a man-made delusion. Social strata are pretty much medieval. Human knowledge: a knowledge of self and one’s effects upon others is what truly matters.
It is incredible how often we can watch without seeing, hear without listening, speak without reflection and judge without understanding. Blind assumption is the mother of all disaster. Space, reflection, and listening to the whispers of those who care as much as your own inner voice are your true and important companions.
The pursuit of happiness is like trying to catch feathers in the wind; it’s a whimsical folly and will not last forever. We will have many spikes and many valleys.
From the moment we have basic cognitive power we are taught how to react to and assimilate things. I have more chance to stay balanced, with less teetering—even in this world of uncontrollable wonders—if I listen to myself and am open to constant discovery. If I have the courage to reshape and to retreat, I can then spring forward with an open mind and spirit.
In the search to belong we are all too often lost while surrounded by many. Being part of the madding crowd is, I guess, a part of most of our lives and we have to deal with it. One can’t just simply get off the proverbial bus while it speeds along the motorway.
But that does not mean for one moment that you can’t step away from the invading noise. You’re only good to others when first you take care of yourself.
Search for the right thing—a sense of self and of things that you value that will keep you appeased even when outside conditions are rough. Perfection is best found in embracing our imperfections: We are none of us perfect but like an aged oak table: gnarled and blemished but still standing as something utterly specific.
Your sense of worth and your sense of self belong entirely to you. The only place to look for them is within. To search for these essential feelings is the most important work many of us will do, and a continual state of being. This is in and of itself a happy state.
It’s time to eradicate stigmas.
Life is hard even under the best of circumstances. Without physical and mental health, it’s difficult to enjoy life and to thrive. It makes good sense to take care of ourselves and that includes getting help when we suffer physically or psychologically. When we feel sick we get ourselves to the doctor. And when we feel so bad that we think about hurting ourselves or others, or when we cannot engage positively in work or in relationships, or we cannot accomplish what we want, we should seek help to feel better. That is what all of us deserve.
Mental health shouldn’t be a dirty word. Still damaging stigmas prevail allowing ignorance to end lives. Judging others or ourselves for our suffering is just plain harsh, not to mention counterproductive. When was the last time telling a depressed person to “get over it” worked? Try never! And using shame as a tactic to “encourage” someone to be what you think they should be only adds to a person’s suffering.
Mental health problems should be thought of no differently than physical health problems. In fact, they are completely related: mental health problems affect physical health and physical health problems affect mental health. We need a world where no one feels embarrassed or ashamed about their suffering. We need a world where suffering evokes only kindness, compassion, and a desire to help.
Here are 5 enlightened ways to think about mental health:
1. Everyone suffers.
I have never met anyone who is happy and calm all the time. It’s just not possible, no matter how good someone’s life looks like from the outside. Most people suffer at some point in their life from anxiety, depression, aggression, PTSD, shame, substance abusedisorders, and other symptoms. And, if a person is lucky enough to never suffer psychologically, they surely love someone who does suffer in these ways. Instead of living lives of quiet desperation, to paraphrase Henry David Thoreau, let’s encourage honest talk. If someone gets uncomfortable with honest talk, we can talk about that too.
2. Mental health checkups are an important part of wellness.
Do you feel ashamed when you go for a check-up at your internist? Probably not. On the contrary, you’re likely to feel proud that you are taking care of your health. Yet most people are ashamed to call a psychotherapist for a consultation. This makes no logical sense. A mental health checkup is a great idea especially if you are suffering and not able to function the way you want. You should feel very proud for taking care of your mental health.
3. Gym for the brain.
That’s exactly how I describe therapy for my patients who come in feeling bad that they “have to come to therapy.” In our society, we praise people for working out at the gym. We think of them as maintaining their health and taking good care of themselves. Well, that’s no different for a person wanting to enhance their psychological wellbeing. Therapy grows new brain cell networks, calms the mind and body, makes it easier to meet life’s challenges, and helps us thrive as we become the best versions of our self that we can.
4. Education in emotions is a game-changer.
We live in a challenging society because it is not very nurturing. That’s why rates of anxiety, depression, and substance abuse disorder have skyrocketed. According to a new disturbing report from the CDC, suiciderates are steadily increasing. At the very least, our society could provide an accessible and understandable education on emotions. This would help us all understand how our childhood experiences translate to directly affect our adult mental health (for better and for worse). Emotion education debunks myths like “emotions are just for weak people” and we can control our suffering with “mind over matter.” Our schools should be teaching us trauma-informed tools like the Change Triangle. Our educational institutions should be teaching skills for managing relationships and interpersonal conflicts constructively so bullying, for example, would become a thing of the past. Parents should be taught about emotions so they don’t unwittingly create shame and anxiety in their children. Education on emotions and how emotions affect the brain, body, and mind depending on how we work with them, has great power to change society for the better and even reverse the current epidemic in depression, anxiety, and addictions.
5. Question assumptions, judgments, and fears around mental health and mental illness.
Many of us fear difference. When people feel, act or look different than we do, we tend to judge them. Judgment, while a form of misguided emotional protection achieved by distancing ourselves from those we fear or don’t understand, is destructive for all of us. Judgment is the basis of stigma and justifies the horrible way we treat people who suffer mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders. Judgment shames those who suffer, and that is all of us. No wonder shame-based depressions are rampant in our society. Instead of judging others for emotions and suffering, can we instead be curious about our assumptions and question where we learned to judge or fear people who struggle psychologically?
Most suffering can be eased with support, proper treatment, and a variety of resources. Let’s be proud to grow our collective and individual mental health. What a difference it makes to wholeheartedly say to someone seeking help, “Good for you! I could use some help for myself too!” Because we all can.
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By Sarah Garone
How do you answer when someone asks, “What are your hobbies?” Playing guitar, competing in triathlons, decorating show-stopping cakes? As it turns out, engaging in a hobby means more than just having something to chat about at parties or fill your Saturdays with. Research shows that keeping up with the activities that interest us actually has measurable benefits for mental health.
Wondering how your knitting project or instrument practice could bring you peace of mind? We chatted with Dr. Daniel Levitin, neuroscientist, musician, and consultant for Fender’s guitar-learning app Fender Play about various ways investing in a hobby enriches the life of the mind.
Many hobbies are inherently creative. Whether you’re painting, woodworking, or baking muffins, you’re not only producing something that never existed before, you’re engaging the creative network of your brain. Creative pursuits are experimental acts, says Dr. Levitin: “These acts of experimentation expand the neural networks in our brains, making connections between circuits in the brain that might not have otherwise been connected.” This type of neural linking-up boosts mood in a measurable way. It actually modulates levels of the feel-good hormones dopamine and opioids in the brain, says Dr. Levitin. And although popular perception tends to associate “creative types” with mental illness, research indicates that imaginative pursuits are actually restorative for mental health.
While engaged in a creative hobby, you may also find yourself in a mental state known as “flow.” Described by psychologist Mihály Csikszentmihályi, the concept of “flow” is sometimes better known as getting “in the zone.” It occurs when you’re engaged in an activity to the point of almost meditative focus. Ever find that when you sit down to or scrapbook or play piano, your mind doesn’t even wander? That’s flow. Getting into this focused state promotes mindfulness, known for its positive effects on stress and anxiety.
When your self-image needs a pick-me-up, you might typically take to social media to rack up likes on a cute photo or funny meme. But for better results, try diving into your favorite hobby. Spending time on your own leisure pursuit is a self-care gift you give yourself — and some hobbies result in actual gifts you can give others. Taking pride in a handmade card or blessing friends with your musical talents could go a long way toward boosting your good vibes.
Hobbies also serve to keep the blues away by helping us hone valuable expertise. Maybe your years of dabbling in web design could lead you to teach a class on it, or perhaps your persistence with running has helped you place in your most recent competitive 5K. This type of skills mastery has been associated with reduced psychological distress. Tellingly, a survey conducted by Fender found that people who played guitar as a hobby had “increased patience, confidence in self and skills, work ethic and persistence.” Sounds like devoting time to improving a skill could make you feel like a rockstar (even if you’re not playing guitar).
A number of hobbies are meant to be performed in a group, or lend themselves well to collaborating with others. Picking up a new pastime can be a great way to meet new people and establish friendships. Shared experiences enhance our enjoyment of activities and help us to feel less isolated. Dr. Levitin confirms this phenomenon: “People who play music together experience increased levels of oxytocin, a hormone that promotes social relationships and bonding.” So if you’re looking for the best hobby for your mental well-being, try something interactive, like joining a band or improv group.
With some hobbies, of course, it’s natural to fly solo. (Let’s be honest, it’s a little difficult to do sudoku in a group.) But even your solo pursuits make you a more diverse and interesting person — qualities that attract social engagement.
Finally, hobbies simply give us a break we can look forward to. Creative hobbies in particular “are the perfect antidote to high-stress jobs of multitasking and computer-based work,” says Dr. Levitin. (We’d argue that physical hobbies are too!) Turning to something non-work-related allows us to “hit the reset button in the brain, replenishing neurochemicals in the brain that have been depleted by a few hours of high-stress work,” he says.
As long as you enjoy your hobby, it really doesn’t matter what it is. Research shows that both physical health and mental health benefit when we use our leisure time for something constructive but fun. So whether it’s continuing your lifelong love affair with soccer or picking up the guitar for the first time, maybe it’s time to make your favorite hobby a priority.
My friend Avi is a great barber. His customers, myself included, refer to his golden hands — his ability to satisfy my son’s desire to look like Ronaldo, or a woman’s desire before her daughter’s wedding to look like Grace Kelly. Putting his phenomenal skills together with his sound business sense, Avi could have easily expanded his business far beyond his little salon.
So I asked him one day why he chose not to grow his business by adding a bigger place in a more central location in the city, or by opening other branches. Avi said he’d thought about it several times but in the end decided against it: “I asked myself, is this something I really want, or is it something others think I should do?” He went on to describe the can-must link that’s so pervasive in our culture: the belief that if you can grow, you must grow. But why?
Avi explained that over a decade ago, he understood that no matter how much he had — a bigger house, a faster car, a fatter bank account — he would always want more. He could choose to continue in the rat race and never satisfy his desires, or he could stop the race and be satisfied with what he had. He went on to quote a Jewish source, the Chapters of the Fathers: “Who is rich? He who is happy with his lot.”
Cutting hair in his small salon gives Avi the emotional gratification no amount of money could buy. His daily experiences were worth more than all of the gold in Fort Knox because happiness, not wealth or prestige, is the ultimate currency.
What, for you, is worth all of the gold in Fort Knox? Can you envision something in your life that would provide you with an abundance of happiness? To identify sources of the ultimate currency in your life, follow these four steps:
For a week (or two), keep a record of your daily activities. Throughout the day, write down how you’ve spent your time, from a twenty-minute session responding to e-mails to a night of binge-watching TV. This record doesn’t need to be a precise, minute-by-minute account of your day, but it should give you a sense of what your days tend to look like.
Once your activity list is complete, create a table that lists each activity, how much meaning and pleasure the activity provides, and how long you typically spend doing it. Indicate whether you’d like to spend more or less time on each activity by adding a “+” for more time or a “++” for a lot more time. If you’d like to spend less time on the activity, put a “−” next to it; for a lot less time, write “−−.” If you’re satisfied with time you’re investing in a particular activity, or if changing the amount of time you spend isn’t possible for one reason or another, add an “=” next to it.
Which of your activities provide the most happiness in the least about of time? Are there things you don’t do now, but would yield significant profits in the ultimate currency? Would going to the movies once a week contribute to your well-being? Would it make you happier to devote four hours a week to your favorite charity and to work out three times a week? If you have many constraints and can’t introduce significant changes, make the most of what you have.
What happiness boosters — brief activities that provide both meaning and pleasure –could you introduce into your life? If your commute to work is a drag but is unavoidable, try to infuse it with meaning and pleasure. For instance, you could listen to audio books or your favorite music for part of the ride. Alternatively, take the train and use the time to read. Then, as much as possible, ritualize these changes.
One of the many lessons I learned from my barber is that material wealth is not a prerequisite for the ultimate currency, and that dollars and cents are no substitute for meaning and pleasure. As the psychologist Carl Jung once said, “The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without it.”
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1. Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier. Select to wake up to your favorite song. Enjoy your coffee or tea in a special mug. This sets off your day in a whole different way.
2. Write down the intention of the day; “Today I choose to be happy,” “Today I choose to stay calm,” you get the idea.
3. Accomplish one small goal to set off your day in the right direction; for example, make your bed or wash your mug.
4. Read a book.
5. Declutter your living space.
6. Start small, by organizing your desk drawer.
7. Keep your brain and body hydrated; get a water bottle and aim at finishing it by lunchtime. Refill it.
8. Keep a gratitude journal and jot down three things that went well or were positive every day.
9. Go out for a 15-minute walk.
10. Follow positive people on social media.
11. Compliment a friend.
12. Cook a healthy dish for dinner; try a different cuisine.
13. Listen to some relaxing music on a daily basis.
14. Listen to podcasts on subjects that interest you.
15. Find a new hobby.
16. Start a collection.
17. Choose an art poster and hang it on your living room wall.
18. Choose to wear accessories that make you feel good.
19. Make a positive affirmation that works for you and keep repeating it daily; i.e., “I choose what I become.”
21. Write down your favorite quote on a post-it note and stick it on your bathroom mirror.
22. Use an inspirational quote as a screen saver; or set your smartphone to remind you of it several times during the day.
23. Make a playlist of ten happy songs that you like best. Listen to them at least once during the day.
24. Listen to TEDex talks on topics that interest you or topics you are curious about while doing chores or driving.
25. Commit to explore one new idea or do one new thing.
26. Remind yourself that you control how you feel by repeating often “I’m in charge of how I feel and today I choose happiness.”
27. Make it a habit to sit quietly and take deep, slow breaths.
28. Take a power nap or sleep 20 more minutes every night.
29. Make a photo album with pictures carrying happy memories.
30. Call, text, or email a friend that you haven’t seen in a while.
31. Sit in a quiet spot preferably outside, in nature, and do nothing for 15 minutes
32. Write down your three core values.
33. Write a positive comment or compliment someone inspiring on social media.
34. Watch comedies.
35. Read poetry.
36. Learn how to meditate and do it daily for 10-15 minutes.
37. Take a test to find your core strengths.
38. Next to each strength write down specific ways you can use it in your routine.
39. Sing your favorite song or whistle.
40. Go dancing.
41. Write down one important goal.
42. Now jot down three specific things you can do this week in that direction.
43. Tell yourself three reasons why you are happy to be alive.
44. Make a list of your “favorites” (dish, songs, books, films, travel destinations, anything).
45. Pick one thing and do it today.
46. Pick another thing from that list and do it tomorrow; you get the idea.
47. Identify five things that make you happy. Write down specific ways of how you can incorporate them in your day and do more of them.
48. Learn one relaxation technique and practice it daily.
49. Write a thank you letter to someone and be specific on what they did that helped you (you don’t need to mail it).
50. Remind yourself “I truly and deeply love and appreciate myself and I am invested in my personal development.”
Just as mantras are helpful for me to process emotions, so are quotes. I often turn to them for wisdom and inspiration. The following sound bytes have been especially helpful in trying to learn how to forgive myself.
Like most people I know, I judge my own indiscretions with a different standard than those of others. While I can often separate the kindness of a loved one from the wrong she did, I make no such distinction for myself. I become my mistake.
The words of the following writers, philosophers, psychologists, and theologians encourage a gentler, kinder perspective that fosters healing. Their sage sayings prompt me toward self-compassion, which paves the way to self-forgiveness. May they do the same for you.
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By Samantha LeFave
The yoga industry has seen its fair share of fads—goat yoga, boozy yoga, and naked yoga, just to name a few—but there’s one thing that remains a constant: People always roll out their mats. That’s because it’s an excellent way to get sweaty and centered, whether you’re a total newbie or longtime pro. Plus, there are some seriously awesome health benefits of yoga that you can score from a daily practice. Here are just a few of the most impressive ones that are worth a pat on the back (because, yep, now you can reach that far):
This one may be obvious, but it’s worth mentioning because, hey, you may not have been able to touch your toes or connect your hands behind your back before practicing yoga. But being able to do that isn’t the only benefit to getting bendy.
Because yoga has a ton of postures that are performed to improve flexibility and build muscular strength, it also retrains our deep connective tissue, says Emilie Perz, a yoga movement therapist and teacher in Los Angeles. “Stress and anxiety can leave our tissues tired, tight, and stuck,” she explains. “[But] yoga focuses on whole body movement and awareness, so we can often use the poses to release and lengthen these chronically tight regions.”
Not only does this mean more flexibility on the outside, but you can also retrain how your body’s tissues hold together, Perz adds. The way to do that is with a consistent practice. “From more mobility to better posture, the poses themselves are a potent tonic that wakes our bodies up and moves them more freely through space,” she says.
If you’ve always thought that high-intensity yoga classes were the only way to lose weight, it’s time to retrain your brain. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with those styles—and research showsAshtanga, Bikram, and Iyengar varieties can be particularly effective thanks to their aerobic tendencies—a study from the American Journal of Managed Care found that a restorative practice can also be effective in lowering that number on the scale.
In the study, researchers divided a group of overweight women into two groups—those who took regular restorative yoga classes, and those who participated in stretching sessions, both of which lasted for 48 weeks. Those in the yoga group didn’t bust out any hard-core postures or speedy flows; researchers said the classes focused instead on relaxation and stress reduction. Poses were held for long periods of time, measured breathing was emphasized, and meditative music was played.
With all that in mind, you’d think weight loss wouldn’t really be the end goal. But this group lost significantly more subcutaneous fat (the kind that sits directly under the skin) than the stretching group did in the first six months and kept it off longer. So, this just goes to show that it’s not always about going hard-core all the time.
Listen, no human being is interested in one thing and one thing only. So it’s OK to love yoga but also love bootcamp. Or running. Or touch football. Whatever your passion is, Perz says, it’s likely that a regular yoga practice can help you perform better. “Repeating postures gives [deep connective tissue] more buoyancy and adaptability, which allows our muscles to fire more effectively,” she explains. “This means practicing yoga daily may also help improve our performance in other exercise modalities.”
Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you have to start doubling up your workouts all the time. On days you have another routine on the schedule, a quick 10-minute flow in the morning could be just what you need to get your body (and mind) in prime condition, Perz says.
Chronic, always-present pain isn’t something to mess around with. It can be seriously debilitating to your quality of life, and research shows it may even lead to depression. But multiple studies have found yoga to be an extremely effective treatment, especially for those suffering from chronic lower back pain, one of the most common forms, reports the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).
One such study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that those who had chronic lower-back pain self-reported better function and less pain after three months of weekly classes. They were also significantly more likely to quit pain relievers after a year. And with today’s opioid epidemic, that’s a great reason to give it a try.
All exercise is linked to lowering symptoms of depression, and yoga is no exception: A review of studies published in Frontiers in Psychiatry suggested that those with depression, schizophrenia, sleep problems, and other mental health conditions could all benefit from practicing yoga. Plus, Perz says that many people live for the mental benefits they experience. “When asked why we practice, both teachers and students alike tend to mention things like yoga being grounding, yoga [being] a tool to help them be ‘in their body,’ and yoga [being] the magic mood lifter,” she says.
Yoga can also have an immediate mood-boosting effect. “There are so many postures in yoga that help with depression and mood,” Robin Berzin, M.D., functional medicine physician and founder of Parsley Health, told mbg. Some of her favorites for this purpose: camel pose, pigeon pose, and legs up the wall, which help you quite literally open your heart and find new perspective.
“Even when the fog of depression seems impossibly thick,” says Berzin, “connecting with the body is an awesome way to find presence, and presence is like a headlight that lets you see a way forward and out.”
If you’re struggling to pull together that work presentation or hit a roadblock on your great American novel, it may be time to roll out your mat. “Research suggests that by practicing the mindfulness components of yoga regularly—including meditation, mantra, and deep breathing techniques—you can stimulate and increase your alpha brain waves, or the happy calm brain waves,” Perz says. “Through repetition of these mind-body techniques, you can alter the brain’s architecture that taps into your place of connection and creativity.”
You know it’s true: The way you think and act on the regular greatly affects your mood and how you feel about yourself. So it’s important to put yourself in a safe space where you don’t feel judged and can be in tune with your thoughts. Yoga is the place for that. “By setting intentions at the beginning of class and focusing on the present moment, you become more aware of negative thought patterns as they arise,” Perz says. “By understanding them and replacing them with a new activity, such as controlled breathing and mindful movement, you can reduce the psychological stress that onsets negative thoughts…and drastically improve your overall attitude and outlook.”
Heart health is more important than ever, with recent research from the American Heart Association showing that heart attacks, high blood pressure, and diabetes are increasingly more common in younger people—especially women. But it turns out yoga may help lower your risk. A review of studies published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that practicing yoga could help just as much as conventional exercise, like brisk walking. In fact, the studies analyzed various types of yoga—both athletic and more gentle flows—as well as a wide range of people with various health conditions. Overall, they saw that those who practiced lowered their blood pressure by five points and decreased their levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol by 12 points. What this suggests: It’s likely less about thetype of yoga you’re into and more about being consistent with your movement.
You don’t want to ditch your conventional care for treating asthma, but research shows that yoga could be a great complementary treatment to help ease symptoms. A small study, published in BMC Pulmonary Medicine, looked at 57 adults with mild to moderate asthma and found that those who added a yoga routine to their schedule for eight weeks dramatically lessened their symptoms and needed to use medication less often. This may be thanks to the breathing practices that are associated with yoga—often called pranayama.
Ah, sleep. It’s the thing we’re always told to get more of, no matter how elusive that concept seems. If you’re struggling to snag more shut-eye, yoga could help. In fact, according to a recent national survey from the NCCIH, over 55 percent of yogis report improved sleep, and more than 85 percent said they were less stressed. Marlynn Wei, M.D., a psychiatrist in New York City, told Harvard Medical School that a lot of the credit (again) goes to the breathing practices in yoga, which can help you relax and relieve tension after a crazy stressful day.