When we talk about the benefits of yoga we usually think of the muscle strengthening, flexibility, breathwork and general physical effects it has on the body. Yoga, however, goes far beyond the physical practice and offers a variety of mental and psychological benefits in addition to the physical ones that come to mind immediately. Historically only known by those who actually practiced yoga, a fair amount of research and disbursement of knowledge has come out on the benefits ones mind receives from practicing yoga.
I'm going to look at 3 mental benefits that are commonly experienced through yoga. Some of these can be noticed immediately when starting to practice yoga and only grow stronger and more obvious as ones the practice continues.
Overall Mental Well-Being
Stress and anxiety are among the most common mental problems we face. And we all face them at some point or another. It's not always clear how to handle them and reorient out mental frame.
Yoga is an excellent starting point. The focus we put on breathwork in our yoga practice and concentration of ones body as we move from posture to posture, allows our mind to calm. Diverting it's attention from the unhealthy stress or anxiety into a far more healthy focus on your practice.
This temporary distraction alone, often times, will give your mind the break it needs to reset and readjust to the external factors in life causing stress and anxiety.
Helps Fight Depression
Asanas, the physical strain and relaxation, and meditation included in ones practice are an incredible tool for fighting depression.
When we relax the body and our mind is calm, it is common for a state of psycho-physical well-being to be experience which often has a positive effect on ones mood. This yoga induced state has been known to have a profoundly positive effect for those suffering from depression.
In today's world of ever increasing distractions and escapism through social media and the internet, it seems concentration and ones ability to focus on a task is diminishing. It's easy to be doing something while your mind of elsewhere.
Yoga, as you may have guessed, can help with this. Studies have shown those who practice yoga have demonstrated a greater ability to concentrate than those who do not. It is through the continued practice and focus on postures, breathworks, and improvement that this habit of concentration develops and grows.
As mentioned earlier these results and some of the mental benefits associated with yoga can be experienced immediately and will only grow stronger with ones practice. A simple 10 minutes per day routine can yield incredible results.
Before I close out this newsletter, mental health is a serious problem and should never be taken lightly or for granted. While I do believe in the benefits yoga can provide for ones mental health, I am not by any means advocating that it is a cure all. Anyone suffering from mental health issues should seek professional health and use yoga as an ancillary form of help.