the science behind yoga and the benefits of a unified mind, body and spirit

We recently took a deep dive into the mind-body connection and the importance of nurturing your wellbeing holistically. Today, we dive a little deeper, looking more closely at the benefits of a unified mind, body and spirit, and how the practice of yoga can help nourish and nurture this connection. 

To shed light on this ancient practice, we’ve spoken to endota Retreat guide and neuroscience student, Paloma Ferretti. Experiencing the transformative powers of unity and oneness since the age of 17, Paloma has been guided by the principles of yoga throughout most of her life. Paired with her neuroscience background, Paloma has a deep understanding of the essence of yoga, its benefits, and the undeniable connection it nurtures between our physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

“Yoga is how I experience life. It has given me an understanding that everything is sacred… It has elevated every single aspect of my life… Experiencing devotion and ritual in everyday makes [it] so much richer”.

Paloma Ferretti, endota Retreat guide and neuroscience student

the relationship between yoga and the mind-body-spirit connection

Originating from the ancient Indian language Sanskrit, yoga means ‘union’ or ‘to yolk’, or as Paloma eloquently puts it “the union of existence by experience”. Uniting the mind, body and spirit through movement, breath and awareness, yoga has always demonstrated that our mind and body are deeply intertwined - a philosophy that science is only just catching up on. “Scientists are now confirming the link between one’s thoughts, attitudes and emotions, and our physical health” says Paloma. This has been concluded by The University of San Diego, who found “numerous overlapping biochemical mechanisms that turn positive thoughts into healthier bodies and vice versa”. 

This is a powerful concept to grasp. That by shifting our internal narrative we can change the way we feel. Or that by actively taking care of our physical health, we can experience a more positive mindset. But, this control over our wellbeing is possible, and it can be achieved through yoga. 

“Yoga is a pathway back to homeostasis, as our breath offers a direct link to our nervous system. Something as simple as bringing your awareness to your breath and consciously slowing it down activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which oversees the relaxation and restoration response, helping your body operate in a way that supports good health,” says Paloma. From this perspective, yoga is a tool that can help us maintain a stable internal environment, enabling us to enjoy a relaxed way of living well.

understanding the role of yoga in nurturing your holistic wellbeing

physical wellbeing

Existing in a state of homeostasis supports all systems of the body, including digestion, the endocrine system, and the immune system, promoting overall health. “When we shift from the parasympathetic nervous system to the sympathetic nervous system, blood begins to divert away from these bodily systems, and our internal resources become fully placed on addressing the stress response,” explains Paloma.

Because yoga strengthens the communication between our mind and body, it can help us recognise when we move out of a state of homeostasis, whilst also serving as a tool to help reinstate it.

emotional wellbeing

For centuries yoga has combined movement with mindfulness, incorporating tools such as meditation or breathwork to balance the mind and body. “Asana can boost our mood by simultaneously lowering our stress hormones and increasing the production of feel-good chemicals such as endorphins and Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which are associated with better moods and decreased anxiety,” says Paloma.

mental wellbeing

Siphoning energy through our mind, yoga can help improve brain function. “Yoga strengthens the part of the brain that plays a key role in memory, attention and awareness,” explains Paloma. “Studies using brain imaging technology have shown that people who regularly practice yoga had less shrinkage of the cerebral cortex and hippocampus as they aged compared to those who didn’t engage in the practice”. This demonstrates that yoga helps to nurture brain health, particularly for the areas responsible for processing information, learning and memory.

spiritual wellbeing

We move with intention during the practice of yoga, and as we interlace every movement with every breath, we start to understand ourselves better. “Yoga as a spiritual practice takes us on a journey of self-enquiry, cultivating a deep self-awareness. To me, this is probably the most important step towards better wellbeing,” says Paloma.

Science has shown that the benefits of yoga extend far beyond just physical, and that this holistic practice can have a profound impact on our wellbeing. Bringing our mind, body and spirit into harmony, yoga is a practice that can support us on our journey towards a balanced, centered and supported way of living well. Experience these benefits yourself by trying Paloma’s class below:

nourish your wellbeing by becoming an endota Retreat member today.

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Pantis, Sofia, "Demystifying The Mind-Body Connection: The Neuroscience Behind How Thoughts Impact Physical Health" (2023). Undergraduate Honors Theses. 107. https://digital.sandiego.edu/honors_theses/107