Yoga is an ancient practice that has been around for thousands of years. It originated in India and has since become popular all around the world. While yoga is well-known for its physical benefits, such as improved flexibility and strength, it also has numerous mental health benefits. In this post, I will discuss Yoga To Boost Mental Health.
Three Crucial Signs Of Poor Mental Health
People live for years without realising that they are suffering from poor mental health.
My mother, for many years, lived with her mysterious stomach ache.
"Mysterious" because multiple diagnoses of her achy-stomach returned to nill.
Various ultrasounds and CT scans failed to recognise why she was having this nagging discomfort at her lower abdomen.
In fact it was not a physical pain but her poor mental health and insecurities manifesting in the form of lower abdomen pain.
If you are interested in which Chakra is responsible for lower abdomen pain, read this story here about the imbalances in Root Chakra.
Here are some red flags which indicate a poor mental condition-
1. Persistent or intense changes in mood:
Frequent and extreme shifts in mood, such as prolonged periods of sadness, hopelessness, irritability, or anger, can indicate poor mental health. These mood changes may seem disproportionate to the situation or interfere with daily functioning.
2. Social withdrawal or isolation:
Avoiding social interactions, withdrawing from activities and relationships, or experiencing a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities can be signs of poor mental health. People may feel disconnected from others, have difficulty engaging in conversations, or isolate themselves due to anxiety, depression, or other mental health challenges.
3. Impaired cognitive functioning:
Poor mental health can affect cognitive abilities, leading to difficulties in thinking, concentration, memory, and decision-making. Someone experiencing mental health issues may struggle to focus on tasks, experience racing thoughts or mental fog, have trouble making decisions, or exhibit poor judgement.
It's important to note that these signs can vary from person to person, and other symptoms or behaviours may also indicate poor mental health.
Factors Affecting Our Mental Health
Mental health is an integral part of our overall well-being, and it can be affected by various factors. Here are some factors that can contribute to deteriorated mental health:
1. Trauma and Abuse:
Experiencing any form of trauma or abuse, such as physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, can have long-lasting effects on mental health. Trauma can lead to conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.
2. Insecurities And Stressful Life Events:
Stressful life events such as loss of a loved one, insecured childhood, financial difficulties, relationship problems, and job loss can have a significant impact on mental health. These events can cause feelings of sadness, anxiety, and hopelessness.
Mental health disorders can also be inherited through genetics. Individuals with a family history of mental health disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder, are at a higher risk of developing these conditions themselves.
4. Chemical Imbalance:
Chemical imbalances in the brain can also contribute to deteriorated mental health. Imbalances in neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine can lead to conditions such as depression and anxiety.
5. Substance Abuse:
Substance abuse, including alcohol and drugs, can have a detrimental effect on mental health. Substance abuse can lead to addiction and can also worsen mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.
6. Chronic Illness:
Chronic illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease can also have an impact on mental health. These conditions can cause feelings of sadness and hopelessness, and the stress of managing a chronic illness can lead to anxiety.
7. Lack of Social Support:
Social support is essential for good mental health. Lack of social support, such as a lack of close relationships or isolation, can contribute to deteriorated mental health.
8. Poor Lifestyle Choices:
Poor lifestyle choices such as lack of exercise, poor diet, and lack of sleep can also contribute to deteriorated mental health. These factors can lead to conditions such as depression and anxiety.
Other than the above reasons, there could be multiple other factors that may be contributing to deteriorated mental health.
Seeking support from a mental health professional and making positive lifestyle changes can help improve mental health and overall well-being.
How Yoga Works To Improve Your Mental Health
1. Reduces Stress and Anxiety
One of the primary benefits of yoga for mental health is that it can help reduce stress and anxiety.
Research has shown that practising yoga can lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in the body. Additionally, yoga can improve heart rate variability, which is a marker of the body's ability to adapt to stress.
2. Improves Mood
Regular yoga practice can also increase levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is often referred to as the "feel-good" hormone.
By increasing levels of these neurotransmitters, yoga can help improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression.
3. Boosts Self-Esteem
Yoga can also boost self-esteem, which is an important aspect of mental health.
Through the physical practice of yoga, individuals can build strength, flexibility, and balance.
This can help individuals feel more confident in their bodies and in their abilities.
Additionally, yoga philosophy emphasises self-acceptance and self-compassion, which can help individuals cultivate a positive self-image.
4. Increases Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment and fully engaged with one's surroundings. Yoga can help individuals cultivate mindfulness by encouraging them to focus on their breath and the sensations in their body. The physical practice of yoga can also help individuals become more aware of their body and its movements. Regular yoga practice can help individuals develop the skill of mindfulness, which can improve mental health and well-being.
5. Enhances Cognitive Function
Finally, yoga can enhance cognitive function, which is important for mental health.
Research has shown that yoga can improve cognitive function in a variety of ways, including improving memory, attention, and processing speed.
Additionally, yoga can improve executive and leadership qualities, which includes skills such as planning, decision-making, and problem-solving.
By enhancing cognitive function, yoga can help individuals feel more focused and alert, which can improve overall mental health and well-being.
Three Yoga Postures To Boost Your Mental Health
Yoga is known for its numerous mental health benefits, promoting relaxation, stress reduction, and overall well-being. While there are many beneficial yoga postures for mental health, here are three that are particularly effective:
1. Child's Pose (Balasana):
This gentle resting pose helps to calm the mind, release tension, and induce a sense of deep relaxation. It stretches the lower back, hips, and thighs, which can help alleviate physical discomfort associated with stress. Learn more about the child's pose.
To practise Child's Pose:
- Kneel on the floor, touch your big toes together, and sit on your heels.
- Exhale and lower your torso between your thighs, allowing your forehead to rest on the floor.
- Extend your arms forward or alongside your body with your palms facing up. Breathe deeply and stay in this pose for several minutes, focusing on your breath and allowing any tension to melt away.
2. Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani):
This restorative posture is excellent for calming the nervous system, reducing anxiety, and promoting a sense of grounding. It also helps improve circulation and relieve fatigue.
To practise Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose:
Sit with one side of your body against a wall. Lie back and swing your legs up the wall while simultaneously scooting your hips closer to the wall. Your body should be in an L-shaped position, with your legs extended vertically against the wall.
Place your arms in a comfortable position, either alongside your body or in a relaxed position overhead. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and remain in this pose for 5-15 minutes, allowing your body and mind to relax completely.
3. Corpse Pose (Savasana):
Savasana is a pose of deep relaxation and surrender, allowing you to integrate the benefits of your yoga practice and promote mental and physical rejuvenation. It helps reduce anxiety, relieve stress, and improve sleep quality.
To practise Corpse Pose:
- Lie flat on your back with your legs extended comfortably, slightly wider than hip-width apart.
- Let your feet and toes fall open naturally.
- Place your arms alongside your body, palms facing up. Close your eyes and bring your awareness to each part of your body, consciously releasing tension and relaxing your muscles.
- Breathe deeply, allowing your breath to become steady and natural. Remain in Savasana for 10-20 minutes, or as long as you need to experience deep relaxation.
Remember, while these postures can be beneficial, it's essential to listen to your body and modify them as needed to suit your comfort level. Additionally, it's recommended to practise yoga under the guidance of a qualified instructor, especially if you're new to yoga or have any specific health concerns.
Do These Two Pranayama to boost Your mental health
Pranayama, or yogic breathing exercises, can be an effective tool for boosting mental health. Here are two pranayama exercises that can be particularly helpful:
- Nadi Shodhana Pranayama (Alternate Nostril Breathing):
This pranayama exercise involves alternating the breath between the left and right nostrils. It is believed to help calm the mind and reduce anxiety.
To perform Nadi Shodhana Pranayama:
- Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position with your spine straight and your eyes closed.
- Place your left hand on your left knee with your palm facing up. Bring your right hand to your face and use your thumb to close your right nostril.
- Inhale through your left nostril for a count of four.
- Close your left nostril with your ring finger and hold your breath for a count of four.
- Release your thumb and exhale through your right nostril for a count of four.
- Inhale through your right nostril for a count of four.
- Close your right nostril with your thumb and hold your breath for a count of four.
- Release your ring finger and exhale through your left nostril for a count of four.
- This completes one round. Repeat for several rounds, focusing on the flow of breath and the sensation of air moving through your nostrils.
2. Bhramari Pranayama (Bee Breath):
This pranayama exercise involves making a humming sound while breathing. It is believed to help calm the mind, reduce stress, and improve concentration.
To perform Bhramari Pranayama:
- Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position with your spine straight and your eyes closed.
- Place your hands on your knees with your palms facing up.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose.
- As you exhale, make a humming sound like a bee, keeping your lips gently closed and your teeth slightly apart. Focus on the sensation of the sound vibrating in your throat and head.
- Repeat for several rounds, focusing on the sound and the sensation of the breath moving through your body.
These two pranayama exercises can be practised regularly to help improve mental health and promote a sense of calm and relaxation.
P.S.- Interested in learning all Pranayama at one place? Join the Yogarsutra Healing Studio
Wrapping Up - Yoga To Boost Mental Health
In conclusion, yoga has numerous benefits for mental health. It can reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, boost self-esteem, increase mindfulness, and enhance cognitive function. By incorporating yoga into their daily routine, individuals can improve their mental health and well-being.