Making the connection between Mental Health & Yoga

There are a variety of yoga poses, breathing exercises, and meditative practices that will help ease the mind.

Mood disorders like clinical anxiety and depression affect most people in this day and age. Medications that help people manage their mental health problems can often be addictive. They come with other health problems and can alter your mood. People are looking for holistic ways to feel better mentally.

This is where yoga comes in and why it’s become a household name in the western world. Certain poses can make you feel safe, alleviate anxiety from the day, and increase serotonin in the body so you feel happier. 

A buildup of anxiety can cause many issues within the body but yoga helps negate this.

 

Power of the Body and Mind Connection

There are many forms of yoga that can help you feel better. Through the stretching, breathing, and meditation of yoga, you send messages to the central nervous system that everything is okay. The brain can then tell the body to relax. It is a cyclical benefit and the more yoga you do, the better you’re going to feel mentally and physically.

Doing yoga, like any workout, releases endorphins that make you feel good. As you work out, the body will release a protein that stops the brain from feeling stress. The protein also works to restore your memory and reset your bodily systems. Endorphins fight against all the stress in the body and mind. The breathing of yoga also relaxes the fight/flight response system. Cortisol is reduced back to normal levels so it doesn’t cause you to sit with anxiety constantly.

 

Breath Work Prepares You For Moments of Stress

For acute stress such as rushing to complete a deadline, you can use breathing to relax the body. If you are unable to manage the constant stress that occurs daily, you may end up with chronic anxiety. When you can take a pause and breathe through a stressful moment, you learn to let things unfold. You don’t cause yourself unnecessary stress. A yoga practice makes you more mindful so you don’t make mountains out of molehills. You can look at things more objectively.

When you can breathe deeply, you send a message to your mind that it can relax. That it doesn’t need to prompt the fight or flight response. When you breathe in a shallow way, which can be common during times of stress, it sends a message to the brain that there is the reason for stress. Knowing how to do deep belly breathing is something you’ll learn through yoga. You can practice it and become conscious of the relaxation it gives you immediately. You can then use it in your daily life to calm yourself down quickly.

 

Yoga Helps You Sleep Better

There are certain yoga poses that help you relax. Yin yoga is a lovely practice to try before bed. They are poses you will spend a few minutes in so you can go deeper. Sleep is an important part of having good mental health. If you’re not getting enough, it’s challenging to manage anything. You may have more to worry about if you can’t work properly or it feels like you’re not functioning at your optimum. Getting the sleep you need will allow you to get on top of the problems you’re facing that are causing emotional problems. You need your sleep and yoga can help aid you in that.

 

The Yoga Philosophy

Looking within you can be a powerful way to help with mental health issues. There is an ancient philosophy that comes with yoga to guide you. It is called the Four Noble Truths of the Buddha. There are questions you can ask yourself to help you find your own truth. You can figure out what is behind the feelings. As we know, depression occurs when you look at the past while anxiety is fear of the future. If you can find the underlying cause of the fear, you’re getting to the bottom of the emotions that are affecting your life. The questions are as follows:

What is the nature of the pain that all humans experience?

What is the cause of that pain?

What will be experienced when the pain is removed?

How can the pain be removed?

Our mind can take over our lives but it’s important to know that you can change how you’re feeling. There are numerous studies that have proven yoga, breathing, and meditation can reverse mental health issues. A daily practice that is just 15 minutes to 1 hour is all you need to begin feeling better. Initially, you’ll feel a little better. Through the weeks, you will begin to feel positivity, happiness, and relaxation. Just give it some time and you’ll begin to experience the benefits that yoga offers.

You’ll experience restful sleep, feel more confident in stressful times, and be able to relax even when life gets chaotic around you. Once you get into the practice, you won’t want to stop.

This guest post was brought to you by Meera Watts

Meera is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of Siddhi Yoga.

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