Everyone knows that exercise is a great tool to better the mind. And it is widely known that yoga is also a great form of exercise. But did you know that you can use a regular yoga practice to better your mind, maybe even better than traditional forms of exercise?
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For me, yoga is a way to shut the world out and focus on my body and my breathing. It helps me when I’m feeling overly anxious, or I’m just having a really bad day emotionally. It also makes me feel great physically. While it can be a difficult practice to master, you don’t have to be a specific body type to practice yoga and feel the benefits.
The truth is, after regularly practicing yoga for some time, I have noticed myself feeling more connected when I do practice. I can feel the benefits of yoga, mentally, after one session. Which in my case, is extremely helpful on a bad day.
Learning new ways of coping is an important part of taking care of our mental health. And in my opinion, every mental health patient should be practicing yoga. It is time that you gain the benefits of practicing yoga for mental health.
Can Yoga Really Better Me Mentally?
Yes, yes it can. And it will if you practice regularly. There are so many benefits to practicing yoga for your mental health. My favorite is the immediate calming effect it has on my mind. Therapy is an important tool for those who suffer from mental illness, but it shouldn’t be the only tool in your toolbox. And we all know that therapy sessions are not instant relief. Therapy is meant to bring long-term results, over a longer period of time. It does take time to feel results from attending regular therapy sessions.
But that isn’t the case with yoga. You don’t have to practice for months before noticing a change in your mental well-being. Your first practice may not show a lot of results, especially if you’re a beginner, but after 3 or 4 sessions, you’ll start to get the hang of it. And you’ll notice instant results. You’ll walk away from your session feeling calmer and more at peace with yourself.
And to top it off, it is great for your physical health as well. But let’s not stop there, there are other benefits to practicing yoga for mental health as well.
The Benefits of Practicing Yoga for Mental Health
I don’t want to just give you my personal testimony on practicing yoga for mental health. I want to actually show you the benefits of practicing yoga. Some of the benefits are physical, but our physical well-being also plays a role in our mental health as well.
And let’s be honest, it isn’t a bad thing to gain benefits in more than one area of our lives. Just from adding one thing to our daily routine.
It has already been proven that yoga has many physical benefits but science is now starting to come out on my psychological benefits of practicing yoga. Here are just some of the benefits you’ll be able to see if you start practicing yoga for mental health.
Reduced Stress and Anxiety
I already touched on this with my own personal experiences, but scientists are now trying to prove that a yoga practice can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and possibly even help prevent anxiety attacks. Now there is still a lot of scientific work to be done, although many who practice yoga swear by its benefits overall.
According to the American Psychological Association, practicing yoga shortly before bedtime can lead to an easier time falling asleep. For those who suffer from insomnia, there is hope after all. I have noticed that if I practice yoga in the evening, I do tend to fall asleep easier than other nights. But hey, I’m not a scientist and sometimes you just have to try it for yourself.
Have you ever had one of those days where no matter how little you felt like doing, you just had to keep moving? Yeah, I have those days. And some days it is my mind that wants to keep moving, not my body. But if I take just 30 minutes out of my day to practice yoga I find that I am better able to relax and enjoy my time, not rush it away with busy tasks.
Because you’re able to relax and destress after practicing yoga, you will find that you also gain a greater ability to focus. So in short, practicing yoga regular could help you become more productive in your day to day life.
Decreased Chronic Pain
Commonly, individuals who suffer from chronic pain will face bouts of depression at one point or another. But when practicing yoga, we are improving our muscle function, our blood flow, and reducing inflammation, which can overall decrease chronic pain in those who suffer. While it isn’t a guarantee, it is something to take a look at for sure. Because if you can decrease your chronic pain, you may also then feel better mentally.
These aren’t even all of the benefits of practicing yoga for mental health, but these, in my opinion, may be the most important.
How Do I Get Started?
Getting started is simple. There are, I’m sure, many programs in your area, at your local gym or fitness center. But the good news for some of us is, you don’t even have to leave the house to start practicing yoga.
I have tried the yoga classes at my local YMCA and I found it enjoyable, but they aren’t very tailored to different skill sets. And it can be a challenge if you don’t feel you can keep up in the class. Plus, if you are self-conscious about being a newcomer to the group, you may be less likely to continue going.
My suggestion for those of you worried about joining a local gym or fitness class would be to download the app DownDog. I have been using it for the past 3 months and I absolutely love it. It has so many options, and there is a free version that is just as good as the paid version.
It even has a 3-day beginner sequence that gets you into practicing and helps you with understanding the different moves. From there you can move up to Beginner 1, Beginner 2, Intermediate 2, and further. And you move up to the different levels as you are comfortable. This has to be the best at-home yoga app that I have found. And I’ve tried a few of them.