Improving Your Mental Health with Yoga
Yoga is much more than a form of exercise. In addition to strengthening your muscles and joints, practicing yoga offers an effective way to improve your mental health. Yogic (deep) breathing and meditation, two essential aspects of your yoga practice, increase clarity and offer mental health benefits that will help you conquer fear and worry.
Relieving Stress with Yoga
Stress may seem to be a minor issue at first glance. After all, most people feel stressed or anxious from time to time. While experiencing stress or anxiety occasionally probably won't harm your health, chronic or frequent stress can cause or worsen health problems ranging from high blood pressure to depression to heart disease.
Combining deep breathing with yoga poses helps you let go of stress and release tension in your muscles. Yoga lowers your heart rate, calms your nervous system, and decreases production of cortisol, a stress hormone.
Do you find yourself obsessing about problems at work or the things you should or shouldn't have said or done? Meditation could help you let go of those intrusive thoughts. During meditation sessions, you'll clear your mind and focus only on the present moment. Whether you spend 10 minutes or an hour meditating, you'll notice that you'll feel calmer, more centered and in control at the end of the session. Meditation resets your emotions, reduces anxiety and depression, and improves empathy and awareness of your body.
Meditation can also help change the way you react to stressful situations. When you feel your stress level start to rise, a quick meditation session will help you stay calm despite the chaos around you.
Struggling with Depression? Yoga Can Boost Your Mood
After you finish a yoga session, you'll probably notice a difference in your mood. The sense of accomplishment you'll feel when mastering yoga poses is certainly part of the reason for the mood boost, but it's not the only one. As you move from pose to pose, your body increases its production of serotonin and endorphins, hormones that stabilize your mood, relieve pain, and help you feel calm and happy.
Multiple research studies have demonstrated that yoga has a beneficial effect on depression. In a study that appeared in PLOS ONE, participants who practiced yoga twice a week for eight weeks saw a significant improvement in their depression symptoms compared to members of a control group.
Your Multi-Tasking Skills Could Improve Thanks to Your Yoga Sessions
It's easy to let a few things slide when you're trying to juggle the demands of work and family. When yoga is part of your life, your multi-tasking and problem-solving skills are bound to improve. Yoga enlarges and thickens the pre-frontal cortex in the brain, according to a systematic review that appeared in Brain Plasticity. The pre-frontal cortex is responsible for planning, predicting consequences, focusing and managing emotions.
Practicing Yoga Could Lower Your Risk of Dementia and Improve Your Memory
Strengthening the pre-frontal cortex and other areas of the brain with yoga may help you avoid memory issues or dementia as you get older. Memory problems don't just affect older people. They can occur at any age and are more likely to happen if you feel stressed. Improved memory is an important, although often overlooked, benefit of enrolling in a yoga class. If you struggle to remember where you put your keys or forget your best friend's birthday, yoga could give your memory a much-needed boost.
In fact, participants in an Indian research study improved their short-term memory and attention-alertness after just three months of yoga. The study results appeared in the January-March 2021 issue of the Indian Journal of Community Medicine.
Are you ready to improve your mental health with yoga? Get in touch with us, and we'll help you find a class that's just right for you.
PLOS ONE: Treating Major Depression with Yoga: A Prospective, Randomized, Controlled Pilot Trial, 3/16/2017
Indian Journal of Community Medicine: Effect of 12 Weeks of Yogic Training on Neurocognitive Variables: A Quasi-Experimental Study, January-March, 2021
American Osteopathic Association: Benefits of Yoga
NCBI: Brain Plasticity: Yoga Effects on Brain Health: A Systematic Review of the Current Literature, 2019
UCLA: To Reduce Pre-Alzheimer’s Cognitive Impairment, Get to the Yoga Mat, 5/10/2016
Psychology Today: 5 Ways Yoga Can Benefit Your Mental Health, 1/24/2019