Well-known for its soothing and relaxing effects on the body and mind, yoga is extremely popular across the globe. A lot of people practice it to boost their physical strength and flexibility.
However, there are also many benefits of yoga for mental health and it can be a powerful tool to improve quality of life. It can lower anxiety and depression, both of which help quiet and center the mind. It even can improve brain function and your overall mood.
6 Mental Health Benefits Of Yoga
Below, we explore the mental health benefits of yoga and explain exactly how yoga works to improve mental wellbeing.
The first mental health benefit of yoga, and probably the most well-known, is that it helps to alleviate stress.
The flow between different movements and poses helps to lessen tension and release stress as you contract and relax your muscles.
The relaxed environment, soothing music, and positive attitude that are common in yoga sessions work to promote relaxation.
Auditory rituals are another aspect of yoga that can reduce stress. These include sound healing sessions and chanting. One study found that lying down and listening to different sounds in meditation can result in deep relaxation. This can also positively affect your mood and mental health.
Lastly, yoga helps you to focus on your breathing, and breathing exercises are an effective method for reducing stress.
Studies done on yogic breathing show that breath meditation and breath work have an immediate effect on stress and mood. It also helps to slow down the heart rate and improve breathing, which can ease any stress and tension caused in our daily lives.
Certain poses allow you to connect your breathing with your movements. This helps to calm your mind. Poses that help with stress relief include:
- Child’s Pose (Balasana)
- Cat-Cow (Marjaryasana to Bitilasana)
- Legs-Up-the-Wall (Viparita Karani)
Yoga is designed to promote calmness and relaxation. So, by practicing yoga, you can relieve tension and reduce your levels of stress, thereby boosting your mental wellbeing.
Improves Depressive Symptoms.
Yoga plays a crucial part in restoring balance and peace to your life. It helps to regulate your stress response system and calms down both the body and mind. This can help decrease cortisol (the stress hormone) production, which, in turn, can improve depressive symptoms.
Hypercortisolemia is a condition found often in people suffering from depression. It occurs when one experiences high levels of cortisol for a long time, which is common in depressed individuals. This condition puts the body at higher risk of infections and viruses as it affects the immune system.
Studies evaluating yoga as a treatment for depressive symptoms have shown positive results. They show that cortisol levels dropped at the end of the yoga treatment.
Yoga, therefore, can be effective and inexpensive to use alongside traditional therapies to help fight depression.
Anxiety is a very common condition that many people experience and there are many different types of anxiety disorders.
Yoga can help ease anxiety by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration rate. This calms you down and reduces anxiety and nervousness. With a focus on controlled breathing and a calm environment, yoga can help induce a sense of peace.
Yoga can also reduce anxiety by helping people find the link between their minds and bodies. Practicing yoga regularly can help people learn how to breathe properly and use relaxation techniques when they start to feel anxious.
One study found that Yoga Nidra is particularly effective in reducing anxiety. Thus, it’s an effective and easy therapeutic technique for people experiencing anxiety.
Incorporating yoga into your everyday routine encourages healthier and better-quality sleep.
Yoga can help you sleep longer and deeper and feel more rested afterward. It reduces sleep disruptions, enhances the quality of sleep, and reduces the need for sleeping pills.
This is because melatonin, the hormone that regulates wakefulness and sleep, increases when practicing yoga.
The benefits of exercise and the special soothing and stress-relieving effects of yoga also contribute to improved sleep.
Boost Your Self-Esteem
Many people (especially young adults and teens) struggle with their body image and self-esteem. Luckily, yoga can help with this.
Recent research showed that open and expansive body postures increase a feeling of personal control and power. This is because expansive postures communicate a powerful look, which makes you feel powerful and confident.
Performing expansive yoga poses increases your confidence, boosts positive emotions, and gives you belief in your abilities. As a result, it can make you feel better about yourself and boost your self-esteem.
Yoga helps to relieve the mind of unneeded emotional baggage and releases its positive energy. And like most exercises, it helps to trigger your “feel-good” hormones. These include dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.
Serotonin is responsible for regulating your mood. When you practice yoga regularly, it can lead to an increase in serotonin levels.
So, naturally, it makes you feel happier and uplifts your mood while lowering anxiety and stress.
In addition, yoga boosts GABA levels.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) links to improved mood and lessened anxiety. Your brain’s GABA neurotransmitter is in charge of regulating your mood. Low levels might lead to despair, anxiety, and other unpleasant emotions.
Yoga increases your GABA levels and enables you to let go of unwanted feelings and moods. It allows you to swap them for more positive ones, and experience greater happiness and self-assurance.
A recent study also shows that yoga improves your mood by inhibiting the areas responsible for fear, aggressiveness, and rage.
Final Thoughts On The Benefits Of Yoga For Mental Health
It’s clear that practicing yoga for your mental health has many benefits. It’s an effective way to deal with stress and anxiety and can help boost your mood, quality of sleep, self-esteem, and general mental wellbeing.
Whether you suffer from depression, struggle to sleep, or experience a lot of stress or anxiety, yoga may help put your mind and body at ease.