It’s a fact: physical and mental health go together. Aerobic exercise and a routine of walking, stretching, and even weight training are often recommended to support the treatment of mental disorders. Among these activities, perhaps yoga is the one that best unites the two worlds.
Light and simple for those who want to start and intense after a certain time of experience, the practice can make a difference in the lives of those who are having emotional problems. Inserting it into everyday life brings a unique awareness of the body, breathing and the place we occupy in the universe, in addition to expanding horizons about self-knowledge and overcoming mental, physical, and spiritual limits.
That’s because yoga goes far beyond working with the body, which even includes internal organs. The ritual is a true philosophy full of emotions, sensations, and energies that flow through specific positions, relaxation, meditation, and deep reflection.
How Can Yoga Help Improve Mental Health?
It is important to point out that many aspects of yoga are linked to the treatment of psychological disorders. The union between physical and mental exercise is especially important and is found in the positions and precepts prioritized in every detail of yoga.
It is recognized the potential that the practice of all stages, especially asanas and meditations, has to help with emotional issues, as they bring well-being, a greater sense of presence in the present time, and a greater connection with the body. Not to mention, of course, the great evolution in terms of self-knowledge.
Of course, practice alone is not enough to treat any type of disorder. However, joining yoga with psychological/psychiatric follow-up, for example, can be a great chance to seek the solution to various disorders.
Here are some details on how practice directly helps in some cases, and how you should go about taking advantage of these benefits!
Yoga for Anxiety
Anxiety is directly linked to a dysfunctional connection between our mind and the events around it. It has something to do with controlling fear and the sense of threat. Those who suffer from the disorder can have several symptoms, among which stand out tachycardia, excessive sweating, irregular breathing, and lack of concentration.
The signs of anxiety have to do with our lifestyle, which usually leaves aside the “inward look” and self-care in favor of the speed and efficiency demanded by the various spheres present in our daily lives. Therefore, a practice that will make us immerse ourselves in ourselves is something that proves to be effective.
With the practice of yoga, it is possible to change the way we deal with these emotions and, in addition, start to control the breath with more tranquility, quieting the mind and the whole body.
This heightened awareness makes one take more care and pleasure with everything, including food. Choices are made with more calm and analysis, through deeper reflections on who we are and why we want what we want, always prioritizing our well-being.
It is important to think that the mind follows the rhythm of the breath, so by controlling the inflow and outflow of air from your body through Pranayama and asanas, the practitioner also finds it easier to tame thoughts and become more present. in the now — which is very important, since most of the time anxiety disturbs our mind making us think about what has already happened, is yet to happen, or maybe not at all.
How to Perform the Basic Breathing Technique?
Sit in a comfortable position, crossing your legs and keeping your spine straight. Bring your hands to your chest, one on top of the other. Thumbs should be crossed and touching the heart.
Taking into account the 4 steps of Pranayama, (inhale, hold, exhale, keep the lungs empty for a while), do the following sequence:
- Inhale and exhale through the nostrils;
- Inhale and exhale through the mouth;
- Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth;
- Inhale through the mouth and exhale through the nose.
A tip: whenever you use your mouth for breathing, keep your lips in a position as if you were going to whistle.
It is worth remembering that this sequence of control of the entry and exit of air does not necessarily need to be combined with greater practice, with asanas and meditation, but it is a good idea for times when it is necessary to calm down to avoid crises or even control them.
If you are interested and want to, understanding how to meditate can be a great way to continue this exercise, and then go deeper into the knowledge of yoga and its forms of practice.
Yoga for Depression
In the case of depression, the benefits yoga has for anxiety also apply. After all, it can also appear in depression. However, another important point must be reinforced here, which is the hormonal issue.
As you know, depression often involves chemical aspects, and one of them is hormonal. The dysregulation of hormones can be a crucial factor in the development of depression, and yoga can help a lot in this regard.
This is because a regular practice of asanas, combined with meditation and breathing techniques stimulates the thyroid and thus increases the production and release of hormones such as serotonin, protamine, and endorphin, which in addition to increasing blood oxygenation, also relax muscles and bring a sense of well-being.
The self-knowledge offered by the practice is also an important detail that helps to improve the symptoms of depression. Self-esteem is improved, because the practice starts to see himself in another way, which reduces his insecurity about himself, especially in physical matters, since the mind becomes the most important point.
This whole scenario, including a greater balance between body and mind, makes the person more open to social life. This prevents isolation, which is a common symptom of depression.
By attending yoga classes, for example, there will be a sharing of all that energy and thoughts in common, and that pleasant sense of belonging can help to lift the person out of the isolated life they may be leading.
Yoga for Stress
With such a peaceful and calming practice, the stress-reduction benefits are evident even from seeing how it all works. Controlling your breathing and having some periods to focus only on you, understanding what happens to your emotions, and getting to know yourself, are excellent for calming moods and reducing the symptoms of a stressful life.
However, there are also chemical benefits, as in the case of depression. Here, that issue is due to the decrease in cortisol, which occurs when you focus on reducing the more negative, stress-generating thoughts.
Yoga will make you better appreciate the details of each moment, breathe, meditate and try to come up with solutions without impulses and angry outbursts that can make it difficult for your thoughts to be clear.
Learning to be more present in that place, at that moment, increases your concentration and makes you know how to deal with the issue before acting. There is less scattering, and the focus is greater.
Reduction of Mental Fatigue
One of the biggest problems when it comes to stress is burnout, which can arise in situations where work destabilizes us and makes it impossible to live fully. Cases like this end up generating excessive exhaustion, mental fatigue that makes us completely lose our peace and decide to give up on many occasions.
Both the physical practice of yoga positions and the breathing and meditation part itself will make you have not only more strength to deal with the challenges of the day but also the possibility of envisioning a future (or even the present moment) that marries more with your goals.
It is possible to control the mind and try to work on controlling fatigue. Before psychological burnout occurs, the practice can find what techniques work so that the situation becomes more stable and he can continue his workday with fewer headaches and stress.
Not to mention the reduction of muscle tension, typical of cases of severe stress, which also occurs due to the physical practice of yoga. With less pain, there is less mental fatigue and, of course, also about the body.