Mental health has come into sharp focus in recent years. What is most astonishing is the scale of it. Many of us today are likely to know someone who is struggling with some form of mental health issue. And it cuts across age, gender and class.
While world healthcare tries to find ways to deal with it, there are two things doctors and therapists often recommend to their patients- exercise and mindfulness-based therapies. Both medically proven to reduce psychological distress.
Yoga combines both. Exercise and mindfulness.
Research has found that gentle, holistic practice of yoga involving gentle asanas, breathing exercises, meditation and mantra chanting can help a range of mental health concerns including PTSD, anxiety, depression, emotion regulation and addiction.
Here is why…
Connects and Grounds
Those suffering from mental health issues often feel disconnected with their bodies. Moving consciously with awareness on the breath has the magical effect of connecting the body and mind. This connection can be grounding and stabilising allowing them to get in touch with themselves.
Strengthens and Tones
One of the big fallouts of mental health issues is the deterioration of physical health. Yoga can gently build strength and fitness.
Calms the Nervous System
Yoga exercises are designed to calm the nervous system which leads to better sleep. Sleep is critical to healing the body and the mind.
Changes the Brain
Yoga and meditation have shown to change the actual neural pathways of our brain. During meditation there is significant deactivation of the limbic system of our brain responsible for the flight or fight response. At the same time it activates the prefrontal cortex responsible for our rational, cognitive functions. Regular practice changes the way our brain fires up.