Besides its physiological and emotional benefits, the spiritual benefits of yoga have also been cited to give both the body and the mind space to heal. The activity reminds individuals to focus inwards and connect the body, breath, and mind through a dynamic series of postures. These benefits parallel the mental health benefits of functional mushrooms, whose compounds have been similarly proven to uplift one’s mood, energy levels, and sense of well-being.
This tells us that using both functional mushrooms and yoga for their therapeutic effects can improve an individual’s mental health naturally and exponentially. In this article, we take a closer look into these therapeutic effects and why functional mushrooms and yoga should be added to your self-care routine.
They improve cognitive function
Cognitive function, or the mental processes critical for the conduct of everyday activities, tend to diminish with poor mental health. Symptoms of cognitive dysfunction can include deficits in memory, attention, executive functions, and processing speed. Yoga-based interventions are associated with cognitive improvements. Yoga practitioners are found to have larger volumes of the frontal cortex and hippocampus. Neha Gothe, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois, explains this is because yoga conditions the memory center in the brain to operate sharply by demanding usage of the same neural pathways responsible for memory.
Meanwhile, the physiological symptoms that diminish cognitive function, such as inflammation in the brain, can be addressed with Lion’s mane mushroom. The Queensland Brain Institute's 2023 article "Mushrooms Magnify Memory by Boosting Nerve Growth" found novel compounds in the fungus may stimulate neuron projections and establish new and fast connections with other neurons in the brain. This results in improved cognitive performance and emotional responses, as well as lowered risks of developing certain mental health conditions.
They increase energy levels
Brain neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin play essential roles in regulating our energy levels, motivation, and pleasure. Poor mental health, such as stress, can act on these transmitters and cause tiredness.
Yoga can help by removing blockages along the spinal cord to improve energy flow. This also increase Gamma-aminobutyric acid levels in the brain, which work as neurotransmitters that have a similar effect as the feel-good hormone dopamine. Meanwhile, you can turn to cordyceps mycelia mushrooms to increase energy levels in your tissues at a cellular level. In other words, consuming cordyceps can help you better withstand fatigue. That means it can, in turn, boost the effectiveness of yoga in increasing the flow of energy in your body.
They encourage better sleep
Sleep and mental health are closely related. Poor mental health driven by factors like anxiety or hormonal imbalances can affect how well you sleep and even cause insomnia. In turn, bad sleep quality can cause irritability and stress. Regular yoga practice can help by improving your deep breathing technique. This type of slow, controlled breathing stimulates the vagus nerve, which controls your body's rest function.
You can then take the Reishi mushroom, also known as Ganoderma, which has sedative and hypnotic effects that can ward against insomnia. A 2021 study published in BMC Microbiology confirms that the mushroom can increase the amount people slumber with its 80 active components. These are mainly triterpenoids and sterols, which have anti-anxiety and sedative effects. You can also use Lion's mane, which is mildly sweet, if you don't prefer Reishi's earthy and somewhat bitter taste. Lion's mane has been shown to similarly help reduce insomnia through its stabilizing influence on cortisol levels. By taking mushrooms like Reishi and Lion's mane while practicing yoga, you can fall asleep faster, achieve longer periods of REM sleep, and ultimately improve the quality of the rest you get.
They improve digestion
Chemical imbalances in our body can stem from stress-related hormones and induce gastrointestinal conditions such as indigestion or loss of appetite. This affects the balance of our gut microbiome, where our gut microbes transform food into short-chain fatty acids that help the body produce more serotonin. This tells us that bad digestion affects our body's ability to regulate our mood.
Twisting poses in yoga are often used deliberately to move food along the digestive tract. Movement of the diaphragm during breathing exercises then helps massage the digestive organs. To further stimulate these organs, the body needs regular doses of fiber that keep things moving along smoothly. Here, mushroom supplements can be a great source of fiber and prebiotics. For this, you can seek out the antioxidant-rich Chaga, which contains anti-inflammatory properties that can keep the digestive tract healthy.
One of the best parts is that yoga and functional mushrooms are equally accessible. You can practice yoga at home with a minimal amount of space, and there are many ways to consume mushrooms — ranging from taking them in capsule form to drinking them as tea. At Nummies, our mushroom gummies are convenient and delicious, and users only need to take two gummies a day before or after finishing up a five-minute yoga routine online. In this way, you can easily use functional mushrooms and yoga to improve your mental health.
Author: Kelly Rourke