5 Favorable Benefits That Yoga Can Provide For Your Mental Health
Yoga is one of the most underrated activities you can do for both your physical and mental health. It’s not just beneficial for your overall wellness but also incredibly therapeutic, which makes it a great way to deal with stress and anxiety. Compared to intense physical activities, such as workouts and running, yoga is targeted towards slow-paced movements that focus on your breathing and the way your body feels. With a lot of stressors surrounding you, yoga can help you effectively cope with issues like depression and anxiety.
Here’s how yoga can help you cope with mental issues like anxiety and depression disorders.
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Helps deal with stress and frustrations
It has already been proven repeatedly that physical activity has significant effects on one’s overall health and wellbeing. One study, in particular, showed that after a three-month yoga program, 24 women had lower levels of cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress. The same study showed they also had reduced feelings of anxiety and depression. The more you incorporate yoga into your everyday routine, the more you have an outlet to release all your stress and frustrations in life. Whether you’re using yoga solely or along with other relaxation techniques like meditation, you can keep both your physical and mental health in check. Yoga allows you to prevent hypertension and cope with stress better.
Anxiety is the most common mental illness diagnosed in the United States alone, affecting approximately 40 million adults. This number comprises 18.1% of the entire American population. If there’s a specific reason why people start yoga, it’s because it helps them cope with anxiety. When you fail to manage your anxiety, it can be difficult to navigate through your daily life and perform even the most basic functions. Engaging in yoga therapy can help you manage your anxieties and worries and incorporate more calmness into your life. A study involving 64 women — who were all diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — showed 52% of the participants no longer showing symptoms of PTSD after 10 weeks of practicing yoga once a week. While it’s not clear how exactly yoga can reduce anxiety, it can help you focus better on the present moment and let go of your irrational fears.
Along with anxiety, depression is also a leading mental illness affecting many people who battle with it every day. It’s a common mental issue that affects over 264 million individuals globally among all age groups. It’s not just feeling constant sadness and indifference. If not managed properly, depression can lead to suicide. Yoga is said to have antidepressant effects and can also reduce levels of cortisol in your body. Serotonin is a hormone that plays a role in treating depression according to the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, and yoga can trigger this hormone to work in your body. Serotonin is associated with feelings of happiness, and people diagnosed with depression have lower serotonin levels.
Enhances sleep quality
Sleep deprivation doesn’t just negatively affect your physical health, but this goes for your emotional and mental health as well. In fact, several studies have linked sleep deprivation to problems like depression. When you actively incorporate yoga into your daily routine, you can increase your chances of having a better sleep pattern at night. A study showed that individuals who had engaged in yoga fell asleep faster and felt well-rested in the morning than those who didn’t. Science also shows that yoga encourages the production of melatonin, which is the hormone responsible for regulating your sleep and wake cycle.
Promotes self-soothing techniques
The reason why a physical activity like exercise feels so therapeutic even if you exert so much energy in it is that it helps you get out of your overwhelming thoughts as you move your body. The feeling of strength and relaxation is tied to physical activity, and the same goes for yoga. While all forms of exercise can release feel-good endorphins into your brain, yoga specifically elevates mood levels and reduces anxiety through a brain chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
Compared to other forms of exercise, yoga is inclined towards slower-paced movements and breathing, which makes it feel more therapeutic. Several studies have proven the benefits that yoga can provide for your mental health and overall wellness. Yoga isn’t just good for your physical symptoms, but it also does wonders for your mental capabilities. It reduces cortisol levels and releases endorphins into your brain, providing scientific evidence on how yoga can help someone cope with anxiety and depression. The therapeutic feeling that yoga provides might not be as intense as exercise, but it offers you the opportunity to focus on your breathing, appreciate how your body moves, and afford you a sound mind.
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