6 Mental Health Benefits of Yoga

When we say the term ‘mental health’ it's surrounded by negative connotations isn't it? You automatically think someone is suffering/have a 'problem' when in reality we all have a mental health, some people’s ‘better’ than others.... We just only seem to talk about it when we are suffering and even them some don't feel they can. If we could comfortably talk about it all the time then we wouldn’t get so many tragedies would we?

It's not like that with our physical health though... Look at all the gyms out there encouraging people to get healthy...physically. People join the gym at all different stages of health. Why can't we set up a mind gym....if you like. To stop people from reaching the level when it's harmful, why can't we prevent it, nip it in the bud. We've got a scheme for obesity, why can't we have a scheme to help our minds from deteriorating?

Well, I have a suggestion for you….yoga!

The Benefits:

Knowing Thyself.
You learn a lot about yourself through your yoga practice. Your self-awareness increases, as does your self-trust. You begin to understand what your body needs, along with your mind too. In the practice on the mat you can start to acknowledge your strengths and areas of weaknesses and I suppose you can relate this stepping off the mat, back to real life. It’s good to be aware of where you can improve, but it’s also good to focus on where you maybe don’t need to improve. Be aware that sometimes you are enough as you are.

2. It’s technically therapy – a medication-free way of relieving anxiety, stress and depression
Along with your other forms of exercise, yoga releases endorphins. Using this practice as your form of exercise you are using your breath to not only strengthen, stretch and increase flexibility in the body but along the way you are actually doing that to your mind too and can have a lasting effect with a regular practice. You can manage your stress, you can relieve depressive thoughts and anxieties through simple breathing techniques and postures. Firstly you are relieving stress from the mind and body, then by continuing once you feel the benefits, you are strengthening your mind, training it, awakening it if you like.  

3. Attain inner peace
Yoga is a philosophy, if you follow it closely and allow what it has to offer, you will begin to see a big change in your outlook.
We look outside ourselves for fulfilment when if we took a chance to come back to the breath, to where we are right now, we realise that it’s inside, we already have it here and now. And that is why sometimes the breath is all we need, to realise that we are enough.

4. Mindfulness
Your ability to be mindful, to be present in every moment increases. You can unlock the ability to be aware of moments as they are, without judgement. On your mat is the perfect place to learn the practice of mindfulness, thinking of what you feel in your body, where, how long, what happens if I put more weight onto this foot etc etc. Then when noticing your mind wandering off worrying whether your colleague was being bitchy to you earlier, or that you shouldn’t have had that cake with your afternoon cup of tea, or trying to think what you’re going to make for your dinner. You can just bring the mind back to focusing on the breath and the movements you’re making here and now. After all, here and now is the only moment we have and can have an effect on. So why don’t we make that moment ours, making ourselves healthier and happier.

5. Science Proves It!
However I’m no expert so I’m not even going to try and explain how…but the statement in itself is enough for me. If Science can prove it’s beneficial then what reason do you have to say no?

6. Community
Going to classes regularly can help you meet and build connections with people with similar outlooks and interests. In a class you're all equal, you're all there for one purpose, to work on yourself. You build a connection with those around you as well as a deeper one within yourself. 

I was overwhelmed to be asked by the BBC to be interviewed about my experiences with mental health and yoga. I was inspired after the interview to write up a post on why for me it helped. Click here to see the interview. I hope this inspires at least one.

Lucy Steel

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