Yoga, a shortcut to endorphin heaven?

Yoga, a shortcut to endorphin heaven?

Every autumn the Finnish media digs up the annual favorite topic about lifestyle change and exercising. Especially interesting article from the point of view of traditional yoga appeared in Helsingin Sanomat on Thursday the 21st of August. The article “Näin kuntoilet itsesi endorfiinipöllyyn” (“This is how to exercise to get high on endorphines”) approaches physical training from the point of view of the endocrine system. The writer offers tips on how anyone can get intoxicated on endorphins with hard exercise. However, they also make clear that this is not child’s play. MD Arja Uusitalo says that “an unfit person has to exercise as much as two months before he or she has the ability to reach the endorphine euforia.” I’ve spent the past decade doing yoga and the article made me think about the topic from a completely different angle. Has no one been told that the shortcut to endorphin heaven has been invented already ages ago?

Endorphins are hormones, that make us feel good. Our system produces these morphine-resembling substances in difficult and stressful situations, for instance. Currently the dominating view is that the most effective way to enjoy these pleasurable substances is to create a stress environment in the body. Undoubtedly the blissful feeling that arrives after stressing the body has always been known in all cultures and Indian medicine as one of the oldest forms of medicine is no exception in this regard. Yoga bases itself on these thoughts and has developed a number of practices that tap into this subject. It’s true, however, that the culture of western gymnastics has slowly penetrated the world of yoga and modern forms of yoga can in fact be all about hard exercise. Nevertheless, in traditional yoga the mastery of how to receive the positive effects of exercise without creating a stress environment in the body has been a major factor.

Studying yoga from a traditional perspective, I’m constantly flabbergasted by the fact how an intelligent yoga practice sends precisely the right signal to the endocrine system, which is responsible of the hormone balance of our system. Yoga is a science, that solves problems in the most subtle level and lets the benefits accumulate on all the upper layers. When studying traditional yoga it’s important to ask the right questions in order to understand the underlying principles of our system. How does breathing affect the hormonal balance? What kind of signal does your posture send to your glands? What is the role of the diaphragms in all this?

We shall dive deeper into these questions in the upcoming yoga courses of Shakta Joogakoulu. And luckily, even if you aren’t interested in knowing how, you can always take a shortcut to endorphin heaven in our daily yoga classes that start in September.

 

 

Miska Käppi is a yoga teacher from Helsinki, Finland.  He has studied yoga in India since 2007, of which the most part in the guidance of Bhagavan Shri Shanmukhan in Shri Kali Ashram in Southern India.