A growing body of research supports yoga’s benefits, not just for physical wellness, but for mental health as well. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the top ways that yoga can improve your mental health and help you gain freedom from the emotions that may be clouding your vision.
If you struggle with attention deficit disorder or have trouble concentrating because of a condition like depression or anxiety, there’s very good news coming your way.
It’s been known for quite some time that meditation can improve your ability to concentrate, but only more recently has scientific data supported the notion that yoga can also heighten attentiveness. Perhaps this shouldn’t come as a surprise, since the intentional breathing and precise movements of yoga require so much mental energy, but now that esteemed publications like the Journal of Education and Health Promotion, among others, have the statistics to back it up, there’s both qualitative and quantitative evidence that yoga has immense benefits for mental health.
Insomnia is one of the most common mental health issues, affecting an estimated 1 in 3 people from mild to severe levels. If you have trouble sleeping, whether it’s an occasional problem or almost every night, yoga can help you get a more restful sleep.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School looked at how a daily yoga practice could influence symptoms of sleeplessness in persons diagnosed with insomnia. Some subjects in the study struggled with primary insomnia (the kind that appears on its own) while others struggled with secondary insomnia (the kind that appears as a result of a preexisting condition like cancer, depression, or fibromyalgia).
What the researchers found was almost as refreshing as a good night’s sleep: simply from pursuing a simple, beginner’s level yoga program for 8 weeks, the participants reported significant improvement in their quality and quantity of sleep. Not only were they able to fall asleep faster, but they stayed asleep longer and felt more rested upon awakening in the morning. Forget counting sheep — opt for a downward dog instead.
If you struggle with anxiety, panic attacks, or high stress levels, there’s something to be said for taking a deep breath. No, really!
In yoga, one of the primary cruxes of the practice requires the yogi to control their breathing so that exhales and inhales coincide with specific movements. This controlled respiration actually calms the central nervous system, and therefore the mind, allowing you to distance yourself from overwhelming thoughts and emotions and instead channel all of your focus into the flow of breath and body.
For those who struggle with major depressive disorder, a diagnosable mood condition that can have potentially life-threatening side effects, it should come as a relief to know that the disease is treatable and manageable. Mental health professionals usually recommend a combination of diet, exercise, medication, and therapy, but many individuals have also reported improved symptoms of depression thanks to their yoga practice alone.
According to the Harvard Medical School Mental Health Letter, research strongly suggests that yoga can mitigate the negative sensations associated with depression, anxiety, and even some chronic pain conditions. This is because the natural structure and physiological effects of yoga closely resemble those produced by clinical relaxation techniques, as well as the feel-good endorphin rush from bodily exercise.
Whether you suffer from a major depressive disorder or you’re simply having a bad week, it doesn’t make a difference — anyone can benefit and feel better from the practice of yoga, so long as they open up their mind and spirit to the possibilities of all it can offer.
For more information on the mental health benefits of yoga and how you can establish a healthier mentality through your practice, please get in touch with Ghost Flower today.