6 Ways Yoga Benefits Mental Health

Yoga has been around for thousands of years and in this day and age it's more popular than ever. Many people take yoga classes as a way to stay physically fit or to reduce stress, but what they may not realise is that yoga can also have huge benefits for your mental health. So, how does yoga help your mental health? If you're curious then you're in the right place because in this article we are going to look at 6 ways yoga benefits mental health.

Exercise releases positive chemicals in the brain

Physical activities, help our brain to release chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins - these are known as feel-good chemicals, which in turn can significantly improve our moods. 

 Yoga in itself is a low-impact form of exercise, which essentially means that it still stimulates your body, heart rate and releases those feel-good chemicals, but it puts less stress on your body, joints and muscles - as high-impact exercise often can. Simply relaxing on a yoga mat and doing simple stretches can make you feel ten times better so get started today!

 Yoga lowers your cortisol levels

 Cortisol is a hormone that is released by your adrenal gland. It can affect all your tissues and organs within the body - including your nervous system. Typically it can be released after your body releases its “fight or flight’ response. Yoga lowers those cortisol levels and can help improve your sleep, stress, and overall relaxation.

It helps to improve your sleep

To get a better night's sleep, you could consider practicing yoga right before bed. One study found that people who did yoga for eight weeks fell asleep faster and fell into a deeper sleep. 

Yoga can also improve sleep efficiency - how long you spend lying in bed, compared to sleeping. Getting a good night’s sleep is the key to being alert and energetic during the day, which in turn can benefit your mental health. The great thing about yoga is that there are many different simple poses which you can practise in the comforts of your own home which don’t require alot of space. 

 Yoga reduces stress

 Although stress is not considered a mental illness, if it is not taken care of it can lead to mental health issues further down the line.

 Yoga practices the relaxing and tightening of the muscles, which can reduce tension. We must remember that the physical practices of yoga are only one part of the experience itself, meditation, breathwork, and even auditory rituals - chanting and sound baths - also play a massive role in yoga. All of these together can help to create a peaceful environment through calming music and a positive atmosphere. 

Yoga can help ease depression

Depression is commonly treated with therapy sessions and medication however, this doesn’t work for everyone. Many people are beginning to research the benefits yoga can have for depression. Specifically how mind-body practices can help to improve your mental well-being. Research has found that people who are practicing yoga have enhanced positivity, whilst also decreasing day-to-day fatigue - which in turn has improved peoples depression.

As we have already mentioned yoga can help with your stress levels. To feel the emotional benefits of yoga having the right clothing and accessories is crucial to elevating your focus, agility and mental wellbeing. Long-term stress can be a major attribute to a person’s depression, so relieving this stress before it becomes harmful can be beneficial to your depression and mental health.

Yoga can help with anxiety

When diagnosed with anxiety many GPs will recommend practicing a breathing exercise when feeling anxious - breathe in for a count of 7, hold, breathe out for 11, and then repeat. This allows your body to slow its heart rate, decrease your blood pressure, and reduce the levels of stress hormones in your blood.

A major part of yoga is the practice of breathing exercises and the control of your breath. Pranayama is a yoga practice focusing on breathing. When breaking down the word Pranayama we find, that Prana means the energy of life and Yama means to control, so from here we can see how this could help to control your anxiety. These are just a couple of ways how yoga benefits mental health.

We truly believe that practicing yoga for mental clarity is the best reason to start. It has substantial benefits for the mind and body, both in the short- and long-term. Whether you're looking to improve your mental health or simply seeking healthier lifestyle habits, yoga could definitely be one option you consider. By demonstrating how yoga benefits mental health, we hope more people start making it a part of their weekly routine! Best of all, it's a practice that's open to everyone, and it can be done by anyone.