Yoga is a centuries-old practice that has been used to promote physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
Research has shown that practicing yoga can have a range of benefits for mental health, which can be attributed to the mind-body connection that is central to yoga practice. By focusing on the breath, body, and present moment, practitioners are able to develop greater awareness of their thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations, and learn to regulate them more effectively.
In this article, we will explore the ways in which yoga is connected to mental health, and the specific benefits it can offer for those struggling with
mental health concerns.
Yoga emphasizes the importance of mental awareness, which involves being fully present and engaged in the moment. This can help those who struggle with their mental health become more aware of their thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations, and develop a greater sense of self-awareness and self-regulation.
In fact, self-awareness is one of the key ways to discover and address the issue (or issues) you may be experiencing.
Yoga also places great emphasis on breath work, or pranayama. Breath work comes in many different forms, but they have one thing in common. A simple act of narrowing your focus on the breath can help people develop keen awareness of their mental and emotional state, as well as promote relaxation and calmness.
This is a known benefit in the medical community, which is why breathing exercises are often recommended for those who deal with stress, anxiety, and even more severe conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder or PTSD.
It is no secret that mental health struggles do not exclusively affect the mind alone. Our body is designed to exhibit a physical response to stress, which is why mental disorders often manifest themselves in a physical way. For instance, those who suffer from depression may feel heavy and fatigued, and those who experience anxiety may experience heart palpitations, dizziness, or excessive sweating.
Practicing yoga involves moving through a series of postures, which leads to increased body awareness. This can help individuals become more attuned to physical sensations, develop a greater connection between their mind and body, and manage the physical symptoms they experience as a result of their mental health.
Connection to others
Going through mental and emotional turmoil can be very isolating for a variety of reasons. While yoga can be enjoyed as a solitary practice, it also provides the students with an opportunity to practice in a group setting, which can foster a sense of community and connection to others.
This can help individuals develop social support and a sense of belonging, which have been shown to improve mental well-being and even the physical symptoms that one may exhibit as part of their mental health struggle.
Other benefits of yoga for mental health include:
3. Increased mental resilience
Overall, even if you don’t notice the effects immediately, it is worth rolling out your yoga mat and giving it a try!