Yoga and Mental Health
What is yoga? Why is yoga so confusing? Which one is the “best”? Which one is for me? Which one is for reducing stress? Which one is for dealing with depression? Do I need to practice yoga even if I’m mentally healthy?
These are the confusions many people go through when they think of starting the yog. I hope I can clarify some of the confusions through this article.
I was doing fine for a few days after the lockdown was put in place. But as the days passed by everything around me took a toll on my mental health. All the overthinking and anxiety became uncontrollable.
Then I thought of practising yog and meditation and I have been practising it for two months now. I had no idea it would help me to this extent. I found my inner self. Along with reducing anger and anxiety, it helped me fight my inner torments and negativity. I am proud to admit that it has transformed my life and the way I see the world. I am practising it daily. As a beginner, I believe that there is room for self-reflection and growth. And I also believe that there’s no better time than right now to take a stand for yog. Roll out your yog mat and start practising from today.
In the midst of chaos, let’s find peace within ourselves.
What is Yoga?
The beginnings of Yoga were developed by the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India over 5,000 years ago. The word “yoga” was first mentioned in the oldest sacred texts, the Rig Veda. Historically its practices have been adopted by religions such as Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism. But yoga is congenial to every religion. The word Yoga originates from a sanskrit word meaning union. It is a union of the organ systems in the body with the consciousness of mind.
It is a state of complete harmony of body, mind, and spirit. It is a combination of physical, mental and spiritual practices. It connects your brain to the body.
“The word Yog essentially means, “that which brings you to reality”. Literally, it means “union.” Union means it brings you to the ultimate reality, where individual manifestations of life are surface bubbles in the process of creation”, says Sadhguru.
The practice entails:
- Postures (called asanas)
- Breathing techniques (pranayama)
- Meditation or relaxation
If this sounds captivating to you, read the article and explore more about yoga and its benefits and take a look at its relationship with mental health.
Yoga and Mental Health
“The most important pieces of equipment you need for practicing yog are your body and your mind.” – Rodney Yee
Along with improving strength and flexibility, it also has many numerous benefits for mental health.
Some of its benefits related to mental health are listed below:
- Sharpens concentration
- Builds confidence
- Strengthens social attachments
- Reduces stress
- Reduces anger
- Enhances better sleep
- Relieves anxiety
- Improves patience
- Improves symptoms of depression and insomnia
- Improves mood
Research on Yoga
There has been an enormous amount of research on yoga and its benefits. Countries around the globe are doing more research to demonstrate its benefits.
- It can improve symptoms of schizophrenia when it is done alongside drug therapy. Also, it can improve the symptoms of depression, attention deficit and hyperactivity, and sleep disorders. (Yoga and Mental Health, Huffington Post 2013)
- It’s positive benefits on mental health have made it an important practice tool of psychotherapy (American Psychological Association)
- One study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine showed that a 12-week yoga program improved scores for disability and pain intensity and reduced opioid use among military veterans.
- It has been shown to improve workplace well-being and resilience
Let us commemorate today, June 21, the International Day of Yog by starting yoga and exploring its benefits on our own. There’s nothing to lose, only benefits to gain. So, choose yoga that fits with your physical ability and mental health needs to bring calm and mindfulness to your life.