Yoga is an age-old practice that took in the diverse land of India. Off late yoga has acquired an increasing audience in the West, with many Hollywood celebrities taking it up. While it is proven that yoga does wonders for the body in terms of physical health and flexibility, a lot of people don’t know physical benefits of yoga. We listed down some of the most amazing benefits of yoga for mental health.
Practitioners of yoga and yoga-goers are also known as a yogi (male) and yogini (female), may acquire great mental benefits including an improved mood and reduced stress and anxiety. Yoga positively impacts the brain and releases hormones that actually reduce the anxiety and stress levels.
On top of that scientists have also found a link between yoga and serious mental disorders. It has been touted that Yoga can be used to cure some serious mental diseases.
The benefits of yoga for mental health
Yoga for mental depression
The implementation of yoga in ones daily life has shown to improve personal scores of well-being and depression. It has been seen that people who participate in yoga every day have reduced depressive levels, and have recovered from depression much faster.
The reduction of stress hormones that follow yoga practices can contribute to lower levels of depression. Along with that controlled breathing techniques can further provide depression relief. It can gel calm the nervous system and drive out the negative thoughts.
The American Psychological Association (APA) has also added that even though yoga is not a cure-all and most certainly cannot displace the coordination of a licensed therapist, individuals suffering from depression may find yoga benefits for mental health and an added piece in using it as a complementary approach.
Yoga for anxiety
Both the feelings of stress and anxiety comes from a hormone that is secreted by the brain. An increase in the levels of this hormone leads to a severe form of anxiety which then starts to take a toll on the human body. A person may tend to become overly nervous and frustrated which might lead to high blood pressure and even diabetes.
Yoga in such cases can help bring calmness and relaxation into the human body. It can calm the mind and reduce anxiety. This has been proved by innumerable studies. The natural anxiety relief that comes from practising yoga can also help to calm oneself in the case of a panic attack.
Yoga & mindfulness
Mindfulness is the art of focusing on the present moment without judgment. This amazing art plays a special role in syncing with the overflow of emotions and is an informal meditation practice.
The concept advocates the idea of “focus in the now” and to be wholly connected with oneself, and is usually intertwined in the practice of yoga. Yoga also propagates the ideology of being in the ‘now’ and to ‘the present’.
Mindfulness on its own gifts some significant and wonderful benefits of yoga to mental health. According to a Harvard Health article, mindfulness is a very important factor in the treatment of several mental health conditions like depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, couples’ conflicts, anxiety disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Yoga for sleep and other mood disorders
Studies from the Boston University Medical Center have gone on to prove that yoga may be superior to other forms of exercise in its positive effect on mood and anxiety.
In the study, a group of healthy individuals practised one-hour yoga sessions, three times per week, over a 12-week long period. After the study, the individuals reported that in addition to reporting lower feelings of anxiety and greater improvements in mood, the yoga-goers increased their GABA levels.
Low lepvels of GABA may be linked to anxiety and mood disorders, which are serious mental illnesses. Studies have actually proved that yoga can alleviate the overall quality of life and other areas like mood and sleep. It helps one sleep better, and people who practice yoga on a daily basis reported that their moods were usually balanced and joyous. They reported a calmer mind and a happier, at peace mood. It has also been seen, that yoga can help reduce the risks of dementia and cancer among some people.
Yoga & focus improvements
Yoga-goers and practitioners can improve the functioning of the brain with each yoga pose, and certain yoga techniques have been used to stimulate the brain and nervous system.
According to a CBS News report, even doing just as little as 20 minutes of yoga daily may boost the power of the brain. This not only helps a person to concentrate better but also, make them more focused and observant. These skills can especially help a person suffering from ADD- Attention Deficit Disorder or ADHD- Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.
More precisely, individuals showed improved and much better reaction times and accuracy on tests after a 20-minute yoga session, which was not shown in those who participated in a 20-minute aerobic exercise activity. Their reflex actions were seen to have improved significantly.
Yoga for self-esteem
The psychological effects of performing yoga postures show to improve the sense of energy and self-esteem. The best part is that the results of yoga can be felt almost immediately. The positive effects of practising yoga can occur after performing yoga poses for only 2 minutes.
Displaying and improving self-esteem and self-confidence reflect in all facets of life, including on personal attitudes and beliefs and how they influence the way we think, create, and nourish the body.
Yoga for schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a severe, chronic brain disorder in which individuals may experience delusions, hallucinations confusion, personality loss, and bizarre behaviour. It is one of the most painful and serious mental disorder.
This condition is usually controlled through medically prescribed pills. However, while yoga can definitely not cure this disorder, however, it can help control it through a process of lifelong therapy- with a combination of medication, yoga and psychological and social therapy.
After a lot of research, it has been found that yoga can help in treating this disorder. Yoga can regulate the serotonin and dopamine levels- which are the two hormones primarily responsible for the occurrence of Schizophrenia.
Yoga & effects on PTSD symptoms
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) occurs in people after they have witnessed something shocking and terrifying life experiences that may trigger flashbacks, nightmares, and anxiety for months and years after or potentially lifelong.
PTSD is common among physical and sexual assault victims, or in people who have witnessed terrorist incidents or natural disasters. While not much research has been done on the link between PTSD and yoga, many experts claim that it does help when it is complemented with other treatment progress.
Yoga can help ease the mind, and focus on the now than dwell on the past. It can help in subsiding the painful and traumatic nightmares that PTSD patients often get. It can distract the mind to a different zone and is able to calm the brain significantly.
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Also published on Medium.