The largest association of professional psychologists in the world, the American Psychological Association (AMA), recommends that people undertake yoga for their mental health and that psychologists weave this powerful tool into their practice to deliver better results for clients.
Why Is Yoga Good For Your Mental Health?
Yoga is good for mental health because of the following, scientifically proven, benefits:
It cuts down stress. Yoga’s controlled exercise helps to control the release of cortisol in the body, that’s the “stress hormone”. Reducing stress makes it easier for people to cope with day-to-day life and challenges.
It relieves anxiety. In fact, yoga is so good at relieving anxiety that they’re starting to use yoga to treat people with the most extreme form of anxiety it’s possible to experience – PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
Yoga can be even more effective at reducing anxiety when combined with a mindful approach to life.
It helps to fight depression. Given that anxiety and depression are closely related disorders, it should come as no real surprise that yoga is also good at preventing depression.
One possible mechanism for this is that yoga seems to reduce the levels of ACTH (the hormone responsible for switching on production of Cortisol – the stress hormone) in the body.
Yoga can easily be combined with other therapies for depression too, it doesn’t have to be the only tool you use to fight depression.
It helps to reduce chronic pain. A lot of chronic pain is caused by weakening muscles and a lack of control in grip strength, etc. Yoga helps to improve the level of balance, muscle strength, grip strength, etc. in participants as part of the exercise they undertake.
Reducing pain makes life much easier to bear on a day-to-day basis.
It helps you to sleep properly. Perhaps, the number one factor affecting our mental health is how much sleep we get. To be properly rested we need 7-9 hours of good quality sleep a day, unfortunately, many of us don’t get it.
Yoga has been clinically proven to promote sleep and participants fall asleep faster, sleep for longer and report feeling better rested than those who do not practice yoga. It also helps to improve the body’s supply of melatonin (the sleep hormone).
It boosts balance and flexibility. This is a huge deal when it comes to how we lead our daily lives. As we get older, we tend to lose our ability to balance and to bend and stretch for things.
Yoga, just 30 minutes a day, can help prevent this loss and ensure that we are able to carry out the demands of life without undue stress or discomfort.
It prevents migraines. There is also some evidence to suggest that the worst of headaches – a migraine can be prevented by doing yoga. That’s because it stimulates the vagus nerve and that is said to relieve the pain of a migraine.
It boosts mental strength. Taking up yoga means finding a certain level of discipline within yourself, that discipline helps to reinforce your own sense of self-control and passion towards meeting your goals. Thus, yoga improves mental toughness.
Final Thoughts On Yoga For Mental Health
Yoga is the ideal exercise for better mental health. It provides all the physical benefits of other forms of exercise and then, in addition, it helps practitioners develop control over their thoughts and movements.
That’s because yoga offers precise routines of stretches and poses that give the individual time to focus on what they are doing and even to practice mindfulness as they work out.
If you’re not practicing yoga, yet, you really should, it’s great for your body and, as you can see, it’s also great for your mind.
Monica is the owner and founder of Cultivate Calm Yoga. Monica has a Bachelor of Behavioural Science, and before teaching yoga, she worked in IT, Business Strategy, Project Management, HR and recruitment. She started yoga to deal with chronic stress and burnout and soon became addicted to feeling calm.
Running her business for the last ten years has seen her navigate many challenges, including death, divorce, cancer, burnout, and, of course, the pandemic. She has emerged on the other side wiser, more resilient and more motivated to help other women thrive in their businesses.