Regular yoga practice teaches you how to remain calm and relaxed throughout daily life. Yoga utilises breathing techniques and body movements that help you to control feelings such as anxiety and depression. Yoga helps to strengthen your mind, emotions, body and spirit by giving you tools to take control back of your mental health.
Benefits of yoga for managing mental health:
- Tames the body’s flight or fight response - by activating the relaxation response (which is the body's natural counterbalance to the fight or flight response) yoga, deep breathing and mindfulness, will bring your body into a relaxed and unthreatened state.
- Improves mood - Yoga has been shown to improve mood by increasing levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is associated with feelings of happiness and well-being. Yoga postures that involve backbends or heart-opening poses can also help release tension in the chest and promote feelings of openness and positivity.
- Helps to lower muscular tension - yoga stretches and strengthens your muscles, improve your flexibility, all of which can contribute to releasing muscular tension in the body.
- Calms the nervous system - yoga postures and breathing techniques can help calm the nervous system which reduces cortisol levels (the stress hormone), and increase feelings of relaxation and well-being.
- Teaches you to control your breathing (handy if you are experiencing a panic attack) - shortened and rapid breathing can heighten feelings of panic and anxiety. Practiced breathing techniques can slow and deepen your breath, create a steady rhythm of breath and shift your focus out of your head and into your body.
- Increases mindfulness - mindfulness is the practice of being present and aware in the moment by reducing distracting anxious thoughts and increasing feelings of calm and clarity.
While yoga can be an effective tool to help manage your mental health, it’s important to note that yoga should not be used as a substitute for professional mental health treatment.
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