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The Science Behind Why Yoga Makes You So Happy

Plus, a simple breath meditation to release negative thoughts now

In 1948, scientists and doctors began the most comprehensive study on heart disease ever conducted. Over 60 years later, the Framingham Heart Study still continues. Because the study involves so many people and spans such a long time period, there are many different aspects that scientists continue to study. One of their key findings relates to the happiness theory.

Scientists found that we experience happiness through social connections. Therefore, the clusters of people around you strongly influence how you feel. In fact, a positive change in one person affects everyone in their friend cluster. Your probability for increased happiness improves 15% if your most immediate friend is happy, 10% if a friend of your friend is happy, and so on until four degrees of separation. They have discovered and quantified what yogis have known for thousands of years: happiness is contagious.

The Science of Happiness: Rewriting Your Stress Response

Explore the science behind the the many benefits of yoga and meditation including relief from stress and anxiety and improved digestion as well as the capacity to deal with emotions like anger and grief. A powerful mix of scientific wisdom and first hand experience, this series will give you a thorough understanding of how yoga works on your body and brain.

Scientists have discovered and quantified what yogis have known for thousands of years: happiness is contagious.

Many practice yoga or go for a run because they feel good after. Physical activity releases endorphins into your body, which make you feel good. By feeling better and being happy, you influence others to feel better, too. What you do to manage your thoughts to create happy cells impacts those around you. In this way, we are creating our world, thought by thought. We can influence more people than we ever realized, simply by being happy.

The Yoga Sutras spell out that if we are not balanced mentally, physically or emotionally, then we are not living our true, naturally happy potential. To remedy this, we are taught to practice Pratipaksha Bhavana (Chapter 2.33) to eliminate negative thoughts by denying them our attention. Instead of wasting energy by engaging or resisting our negative thoughts, we replace them with positive ones. Over time this process of substitution sublimates negative thinking.

Try This Practice

Engage happy thoughts and try this breath meditation when you need to reframe your outlook.

INHALE: I WELCOME HAPPINESS

EXHALE: I AM GRATEFUL

INHALE: I WELCOME INSPIRATION

EXHALE: I AM GRATEFUL

INHALE: I WELCOME LOVE

EXHALE: I AM GRATEFUL

INHALE: I WELCOME HOPE

EXHALE: I AM GRATEFUL

In a world where almost anything can go viral, why not inspire happiness? Knowing that happiness is contagious means that happiness benefits more than just you: those around you reap the benefits as well. Let’s join together in a happiness movement, where joy, happiness and peace spread to everyone around us!

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