From the Mat to the Mind: Mental Health Benefits of Practicing Yoga Regularly

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Yoga has been practiced since ancient times, but in the last few years, it has gained more popularity. Celebrities, fitness enthusiasts, and sports personalities opt for yoga to keep their body fit. Most people associate yoga with body fitness without the use of equipment in a conventional Gym environment. However, very few understand the importance of yoga for mental health.

Yoga is derived from a Sanskrit word that is translated as ” to yoke” which means to unite. Unite body and mind, when your mind feels connected and united with your body in terms of peace and calmness, your mental health is protected. Yoga does not only focus on physical fitness but also mental fitness that keeps your overall health in check. How? Let’s find out from a discussion between two friends Elena and Andrew:

Yoga helps in reducing depression and anxiety

Depression and Anxiety are increasingly hitting the modern generation due to the fast-moving environment where we fail to focus on ourselves, making it difficult for our minds and body to handle difficulties. There comes a time when your mind and body give up, at that time Yoga helps.

Elena says” When I was facing depression because of a bad relationship, Yoga helped me a lot. I read about how yoga can affect your muscles that connect with depression and Anxiety.”

“Yes! During the depression, the diaphragm which is the main muscle in the respiratory system becomes rigid and difficult. Practicing yoga majorly focuses on the elasticity of this muscle through diaphragmatic breathwork for better movement and deep breathing that helps during anxiety or depression.” says the other friend. 

If you know about yoga enough, you might know about some popular Yoga exercises or Asana such as breathing in and out, meditation, etc. These Yoga asanas help individuals reduce their depression and anxiety by calming their brains and focusing more on the positive side.

Better sleep and reduced aggression

Elena ” I totally agree that breathing Yoga exercises that focus on calming your brain can impact positively on the mind”. In Fact, it can focus on other negative aspects of our personality. Many people fail to control their negative emotions and aggression at many points of time which lead to wrong decisions. Ultimately, I end up with depression and anxiety.

Andrew Says” I see, everything is linked up, if your mind is calm, more focused, your emotions are in control. If you begin your day with yoga, you are more at peace with yourself and calm to start your day. Thus, this brings a better ability to handle emotions and aggression.

Moreover, with Yoga, your issues with the sleep cycle that lead to insomnia can be reduced. Many breathing Yoga exercises such as Pranayam before you go to sleep and when you wake up give ease. Pranayam is an exercise that states it’s time to breathe, time to feel relaxed, and time to leave all your issues aside and feel the air. So, your mind is at peace and calm to sleep better.

Sharp and more focused brain

Do you feel like your brain is restless? You feel a lack of concentration despite trying, that’s because your body is telling you to relax. Elena says” When I used to study for my graduation, I found it difficult to concentrate which resulted in procrastination. Lack of concentration leads to many negative things like procrastination, wastage of time, more pressure near deadlines, depression, and anxiety at peak hours. Moreover, lack of concentration reduces your ability to understand things quickly, that you would normally do. ” Yoga can eliminate all these problems. Many Yoga exercises focus specifically on improving power, concentration, and focus to reduce tardiness.

“It’s amusing to see how one thing can impact many other things in a negative and positive way. A negative mental trait can impact different habits and instill other negative traits. Similarly, the positive impact of yoga can impact and develop many other positive things.” Says Andrew.

According to research studies, yoga affects neurological functions positively that are directly associated with concentration and focus. With regular practice of yoga and exercises that impact neurological functions, the brain can develop a thick cerebral cortex.

Cerebral Cortex is responsible for information processing, learning, and memory in the brain. Regularly practicing increases the thickness of the cortex which helps in developing learning and memory. In addition, some studies showcase that yoga can also reduce the shrinking of some areas of the brain which leads to a negative effect on memory and cognition.

Improve or enhanced mood

“I think everyone would agree that our mood and emotions can severely impact our decisions, and behavior, especially when we are overpowered with emotions”, says Elena.

Andrew says” Yes! Absolutely, humans are too high on emotions at times, but they also have the ability to control emotions if practiced. Yoga can immensely help individuals to practice body and mental well-being, control emotions, and bring their restless brain to rest. Yoga can help individuals reduce sour mood, keep their mood better, and improve mental well-being.”

Regularly practicing yoga in the morning or any time of the day can increase hormones and chemicals in the body & brain respectively. One of them is GABA- Gamma-aminobutyric acid which helps in uplifting the mood. Similarly, there are Yoga exercises that erupt happy hormones and emotions in our body that uplift our mood. Regularly practicing such exercises can lead to a better mood and reduced overpowered emotions.

Final Thoughts

Yoga is more associated with fitness in today’s era, but if you look at its benefits, it’s more powerful for mental health. Practiced from ancient times, yoga has been a source of concentration, a way to unite body and mind for people. Individuals who are low on mental health should try practicing yoga every day for relaxation and better mental health. Enrolling in Yoga teacher training Bali can also be a transformative experience for those seeking to deepen their understanding and practice of yoga.




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