There are many health benefits of Yoga but did you know that it can also help your mental well-being? Increased body awareness, relief of chronic stress and relaxation are just a few of the benefits you’ll experience when you begin the practice of Yoga. And don't think that if you practice yoga that you have to be into all that hippy stuff, you take from it what you want. But for me it brings me peace of mind, focus and calmness. Oh and I am starting to develop some pretty lean muscles! Read on....
When I was diagnosed with Anxiety and Depression back in October 2015 my Doctor advised a string of things I could do such as; cut back on alcohol, cut back on caffeine, avoid white flour and refined sugar and exercise for at least 30 minutes every day. Well, I already did all of those so what next? Well, medication it would seem. Now that was something I really didn't want until I had literally exhausted every other possibility. I am still working on this by the way....
The last thing he said to me was 'have you tried Yoga?'. I have, many years ago just after my daughter was born and I enjoyed it, just never really 'got' it. So, I started to do some research and being an avid lover of Instagram I happened upon Yoga Girl aka. Rachel Brathen. She is an Instagram phenomenon and I soon became hooked by her inspirational photographs of yoga poses in the most glorious settings, and more poignantly her words. For someone so young, and naturally gorgeous (I would say 'grrrr so not fair' but that isn't very 'zen' of me!) she has some pretty good stuff to say and it started to hit home. Also, I was desperate, I would try anything!
So I tried it. And I loved it. I still love it and to coin the phrase of Yoga Girl I make sure that I know do 'Yoga Every Damn Day'. Even if it is just 10 minutes of mindfulness I always do something. So what are the benefits?
5 Benefits of Yoga for Mental Health include:
* Sharper Concentration – Concentration is one of the essential elements to achieving success. Yoga scientifically creates harmony between the mind and body and helps everything you come into sharper focus.
* Relieves Stress – Yoga is highly recognized by mental professionals as a way to relieve stress and its by-products – such as depression and anxiety. It works by relieving symptoms that are related to these disorders – bringing a sense of well-being.
* Relieves Muscle Strain – When your muscles are relaxed, your mind can also relax. The gentle stretching exercises of Yoga can switch your mind to concentrating on pain and anxiety to a more normal, relaxed state of the mind.
* Centre Your Attention – Yoga is recommended by medical professionals to help those with attention deficit disorders. These disorders can handicap children and adults by causing them to be inattentive and to react impulsively.
* Free the Spirit – An internal mental attitude locked in stress and tension can’t be free to explore life. Tuning in to our breathing and becoming focused on our bodies and minds are the true elements of Yoga.
Yoga is often misunderstood as mysterious and only for ‘weirdoes’ who have time to meditate for hours and experience levitation. But, Western scientists and medical professionals are beginning to discover that Yoga can help to relieve modern-day symptoms of stress and mental anxiety and anguish.
If you want some more scientific reasoning then Harvard University have published the following paper on Yoga for Anxiety and Depression and it is well worth a read:
Harvard Mental Health Letter
Studies suggest that this practice modulates the stress response.
So. Open your mind and give it a go. I did and it is the single best decision I have made in relation to my mental health and wellbeing.