How Yoga Helps Your Mental Health
Yoga & Mental Health logo

Due to the pandemic, more and more people have become more conscious of their health. Many are now paying closer attention to their diet and exercise to minimize the chances of getting sick. 

But when we talk about wellness, we are not just referring to our physical bodies. Yes, it is a vital part of our overall health, but it is not the only aspect of our well-being. 

We should also be mindful of our mental health. Often, even if we are doing well physically, we are still prone to getting sick if our minds are not at ease. Why is this so? Well, this is because our inner being affects our body as well.

If you are constantly stressed about a matter and cannot be at peace, you will observe that you will also feel physically weak. This is also the case if you are sad about a work-related problem or a family issue. It’s almost automatic that you will lack the energy to go about your daily routines.

So having routines that provide holistic benefits is a must.

Yoga as exercise

If you are looking for an activity that will be great for your inner and outer being, you may consider doing yoga. 

In a nutshell, yoga is a practice that focuses our attention on our self-awareness through various body movements. It includes more than a set of simple postures (asanas). 

It also has specialized breathing methods (pranayama), chanting (mantra) and visualization (bhavana). Expect to do a lot of meditation as well, as it helps us listen to ourselves from ‘within’ and block distractions.

Do not underestimate the positive effects of this popular exercise. There are enough compelling reasons why many enthusiasts swear by the results they have seen for themselves.

Taking the time to go on a yoga mat might be the difference between juggling a lengthy list of responsibilities and taking care of our own health. This is because it can allow us to ‘be’ rather than ‘do’. 

Though this may seem too philosophical, there is no harm in trying it. Compared with other more bombastic exercises, it is quieter. As you stretch your body and push it to its limits, you also listen to your mind and your body. 

According to those who practice it, this type of meditation does wonders for them.

Benefits of yoga

In terms of physical benefits, yoga encourages us to move our bodies, increasing our strength and flexibility. It also reduces the patterns we’ve developed due to sitting for long periods of time.

In terms of our minds, yoga provides us with the gift of attention. It allows us to relax and let go of stress and effort. This is especially true during restorative poses, which help relieve tension in the body and mind. 

Other physiological functions, such as the digestive, neurological, and respiratory systems, can function more efficiently when the mind relaxes.

We may begin to make better judgments and have a better grasp of what is best for us if we practice this regularly.

Mental health

It’s no surprise that yoga has various mental health advantages, such as reduced anxiety and depression because it emphasizes breathing and meditation. Many acknowledge that both of these activities assist in quieting and centring the mind. What’s even more astonishing about yoga is that it improves the efficiency of your brain.

We know that our muscles get stronger and more prominent when we lift weights. When we practice yoga, a similar thing happens. Our brain cells make new connections, and the structure and function of our brain alter. This results in better cognitive abilities like memory and learning. 

The brain regions that control memory, attention, consciousness, cognition, and language are all strengthened by yoga. If you think about it, yoga is some sort of weights training for the mind.

People who consistently practised yoga had a thicker cerebral cortex (responsible for processing data and information) and hippocampus (involved in cognition and remembering) than nonpractitioners. This is according to studies utilizing MRI scans and other brain imaging equipment.

Although these brain parts usually decrease as you get older, individuals who practised yoga for more extended periods exhibited less shrinkage than those who didn’t. Yoga may reverse the deficits in memory and other cognitive abilities that come with age.

Brain functions

According to research, yoga and meditation have also been shown to increase executive functions such as thinking and decision-making.

By reducing stress hormone levels, boosting endorphin synthesis, and providing more oxygenated blood to your brain, all forms of exercise can improve your mood. But yoga has a few more advantages. It can improve your mood by increasing the amount of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in your brain, which is linked to better mood and less anxiety.

The limbic system, which is the brain area that deals with emotions, is also less active during meditation. When presented with complex conditions, you have a more tempered response as your emotional receptivity decreases.

Depression and anxiety have long been treated with drugs and psychotherapy. But yoga is an excellent example of a complementary therapy that works well compared to other treatments.

If you are looking for a yoga studio in Newcastle, look for one that can help you fully reap all the benefits of this exercise. Not all fitness centres are created equal so make sure you go to the right one.