How is Yoga Good for Mental Health?
Yoga can help you stay grounded and bring peace to your physical and mental being. It doesn’t just end there; yoga has many benefits, all waiting to be explored. Read on to find out more!
Until recently, mental health had always taken a back seat in all of our lives. It was a topic that was often brushed aside and called irrelevantly. However, this has changed in the past few years; people have understood the importance of mental health and how essential it is to take good care of it.
There are various ways of caring for your mental health, but one popular method or activity is yoga. Yoga can help you refocus and bring a sense of peace, calm, and clarity. This clarity and sense of calm will give you some downtime that will essentially help you put things into perspective and eventually help you prioritize your mental health.
Introduction to Yoga
Yoga is a culmination of physical, mental, and spiritual practices that originated in ancient India. It is a form of physical training that has been around for ages, has evolved and is now practiced worldwide, and is not restricted to one form only.
It involves breathing exercises, postures or asanas, chants, and meditation. It is known to reduce stress, improve immunity, flexibility, and lung function.
Practicing yoga can keep you grounded and in touch with your inner conscience.
With time, yoga has evolved and now holds different meanings for different people. One could be practicing yoga as a part of their fitness routine; another could be practicing it for a sense of peace, and so on.
There are different forms and several benefits of practicing yoga daily. However, the main goal remains the same; to cultivate discernment, awareness, self-regulation, and higher consciousness in the individual; in simple terms, it means to stay in touch with your inner self and find balance within your mental and physical being.
Yoga is now practiced in many forms.
A few of the forms that are practiced are
- Power Yoga
- Bhakti Yoga
- Iyengar Yoga
- Kriya Yoga, etc.
However, the main takeaway of yoga, regardless of its form, is to achieve mental balance.
Regular yoga practice helps you achieve mental balance. But, it takes time, patience, and perseverance.
Importance of Looking After Your Mental Health
Your mental health is as important as your physical health. When you have a stomach ache, a headache, or even just a cold, you choose to rest and proceed to take your day off. However, if you feel anxious, if you feel your stomach drop or heart race at the thought of going to work, or if you just can not bring yourself to get out of bed, you brush that off as laziness or you being nervous and don’t even consider taking a break. This behavior and mindset, are you not listening to your body and mind when it told you it wanted to take a break.
With every sign that you ignore, you’re worsening your mental health. It starts accumulating, and one day, it can present itself in the form of a panic attack, an anxiety attack, or other such reactions. To avoid this, it is essential to look after your mental health. Give it the same importance you do to your physical health, and it will benefit your overall well-being.
How is Yoga Good for Mental Health?
Yoga teachers worldwide believe that yoga is the key to psychological and emotional healing. It can help your self-confidence, relationships, family of origin issues, and more. Yoga as a practice can help you work with the nature of the mind, the nature of being a human, understand the emotions that live in our bodies and how they can affect our behavior and mind.
Exercise, in general, can help improve your mood by increasing the production of endorphins and sending a good inflow of oxygenated blood to the brain. Yoga does all of this and more; it elevates gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels in the brain, a chemical that is associated with better mood and decreased anxiety .
Meditation can help reduce the activity in the part of the brain that is dedicated to emotions, otherwise known as the limbic system. Once this part of the brain is calm and not as reactive, you can make more rational decisions and have more tempered responses when faced with stress-inducing situations.
Yoga, in general, can help you calm your mind and body by teaching us the art of steady breathing. Deep, slow breaths are associated with a calmer state of mind and body since they can activate the parasympathetic nervous system.
Yoga for Mental Health
As mentioned, yoga can be beneficial to your mental health. It can,
Calm your mind
Yoga can help you calm your mind and bring into perspective everything around you. It enables you to refocus, which can almost always help relieve stress. The controlled breathing practiced in yoga is key to calming your mind.
Help you focus
Yoga teaches you to focus on every part of your body and address it. This can happen through guided meditation, or you can practice this by yourself. Regardless, this practice can help you focus not only on yourself and your needs but also externally.
Improve your mood
The sense of calm and peace that encompasses your being after a yoga session will help you de-stress and will essentially just leave you in a good mood. Yoga also helps release happy hormones in the brain to keep you in a good mood.
Help build confidence
Confidence results from self-satisfaction. This is often a result of a sense of peace and calm. As discussed, practicing yoga can calm your mind and help you stay relaxed. This will lead to clarity of mind and eventually help build confidence and a sense of empowerment.
Improve your patience
Practicing yoga unconsciously forces you to improve your patience. Calming your energies, silencing your mind, focusing on every asana, and not rushing to get to the next pose is all a part of yoga and can help you build patience.
Help you control your anxiety and depression
Anxiety and depression are mental health conditions that require a professional diagnosis and treatment. Although there are various types of treatments available, one can always turn to yoga to try and control the symptoms of anxiety and depression. The control you learn to have over your mind and body is essentially what will help you.
Bring a sense of peace
As discussed, yoga can bring a sense of peace. By teaching us to control our breathing and our thoughts, yoga helps us settle our minds down and allow a sense of peace to take over. This calmness that we refer to as peace can help you in the long run.
The best type of Yoga for Mental Health
Also known as the child pose, this asana stimulates your nervous system and re-energize your entire body. By practicing this pose regularly, you will notice a sense of mental, physical, and emotional comfort descend upon you.
The hasta uttanasana is a raised arm pose that helps expand the chest and rib cage. This way it helps increase your oxygen intake. This asana is often used as a relaxation tool. It is said to relieve mild depression and beat insomnia.
Viparita Karani Asana
The viparita Karani asana entails raising your legs so it is perpendicular to the floor. In modern yoga, practitioners use the help of the wall and sometimes a pillow or a pile of blankets to support their lower back. This asana, also known as the inverted pose, can help calm anxiety, treat depression and insomnia.
Ideally practiced after a yoga session, this asana is known to relax the body. It helps boost your mental health and prevent the onset of prenatal depression, a mental health condition that some pregnant women might experience.
Also known as the bridge pose, this asana can help you remove blockages from the mind and restore a sense of peace and calmness.
A few other poses you could practice to help you stay calm and to maintain your mental wellbeing are,
- Adho Mukha Vrksasana
Effects of Yoga on Mental and Physical Health
Yoga does help relax the mind and body, but it is also highly beneficial to the overall health of your body. Some of the benefits of practicing yoga regularly are as follows:
Flexibility is an essential component in one’s life. Sitting for long hours without any movement can reduce your flexibility and affect your day-to-day lives. Performing yoga keeps your body relaxed and prevents stiffness. You can also improve your overall movement with the right kind of exercise (2).
Helps strengthen the body
Practicing regular yoga can help you strengthen your body and keep you active for the rest of the day. The asanas and poses you are made to practice help you gradually improve your strength and muscle definition. Although not as intense as a gym workout, yoga can still help you make changes to your body regarding its strength and definition .
Helps keep the body balanced
Balance is an essential part of daily living. To stand sturdy on your feet and perform various activities, it is vital to align your body and ensure you maintain a good balance. However, it often becomes difficult to maintain balance in the body due to stress. Practicing yoga helps you maintain balance and reduce restlessness .
Reduces back pain
Having bad posture will lead to complications regarding your back. Yoga can help you fix your posture and maybe even cure your back pain permanently .
Improves heart health
The breathing process in yoga has vital benefits for people suffering from heart ailments. It reduces bad fat in the body and improves the functioning of the heart .
Sleep and stress are interdependent. Lack of sleep causes stress and vice-versa. To manage your day and stay stress-free, one needs to be calm. Regular yoga practice can help keep your mind and body calm, improving your sleep patterns .
Stress is often one of the major factors that lead to various mental health issues. It not only affects you mentally but can cause physical changes as well; like hair fall, weight loss or weight gain, etc. Breathing exercises practiced during yoga can help you manage stress and stay calm even under tense circumstances .
Relieves neck pain
Over time, back pain radiates to the neck and shoulders. This can result in excruciating pain in these regions. Practicing yoga can help relieve neck, shoulder, and arm pain .
Prevents digestive issues
Unhealthy food and lifestyle are common factors of heart diseases and diabetes. It also affects our digestion. All the unhealthy fat and oil we consume can adversely affect our digestive system. Acidity, constipation, and change in Ph levels are results of current food practices. Although one can change their food habits to make a difference, practicing yoga helps channel digestion and can help manage Irritable Bowel Syndrome .
Other Ways to Look After Your Mental Health
Looking after your mental health is relatively easy once you start noticing patterns and listening to your body.
- Take off days when you don’t feel like going about your day because you’re exhausted.
- Don’t question your exhaustion; it might just be your body’s way of telling you that it is overwhelmed.
- Remember to control your breathing and look at your situation with a clearer perspective during stressful situations.
- Do not rush into making decisions when you’re not feeling great.
- Lastly, step out of your house every now and then, breathe in some fresh air, enjoy your surroundings, and remind yourself that everything is okay and will eventually work itself out.
How does yoga improve your mental health?
Yoga teaches you to control your breathing, through which you will be able to calm your mind and body. The calmness that will prevail after a yoga session is highly beneficial to your mental health. Yoga also helps improve blood flow to the brain and increases feel-good hormones, both of which can help uplift your mood.
What are the 3 mental health benefits of yoga?
Three significant mental health benefits of yoga are,
- Prevents the onset of anxiety and depression
- Promotes a sense of peace and calm
- Increases production of feel-good hormones
What is the main purpose of yoga?
The purpose of practicing yoga differs from person to person. One might do it to improve their physical health, while another might do it to improve their mental health. Either way, yoga can help you stay in touch with your inner self and find balance within your psychological and physical being.
Why is yoga so important?
Yoga is important because of the variety of benefits it can offer. Moreover, its benefits aren’t just restricted to physical health but also expand to mental health. Yoga must be one of the only practices that equally benefit the mind, body, and soul.
Mental health is an important discussion. It is essential to address mental health concerns before they start affecting your day-to-day lives. Although there are various ways to maintain good mental health, yoga, as a practice, is one of the most popular ones.
Practicing yoga can help bring a sense of peace and calm within oneself. It keeps you grounded and conscious of both your surroundings and your inner well-being.
Although practicing yoga can help a great deal with your mental health, always consult a professional if you think you might require more guidance with your mental health. After all, a happy body is healthy both internally and externally.
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