Yoga has been around for over 2 thousand years and there’s no doubt that it’s of great benefit for both our physical and mental health. Modern life takes a toll on our mental health and increasingly, many find themselves struggling with chronic feelings of low mood, and troubling anxiety. Medications can provide some relief but for many people this is not how they want to manage their moods.
“Yoga leaves us feeling empowered.”
Regular Yoga practice supports resilience, self-care and self-awareness which lies at the heart of supporting our mental health day to day. Yoga that involves simple breath centred movement, supports the nervous system to reduce the impact of stress on the body and mind. Yoga leaves us feeling empowered and alive each time we step off the yoga mat. The changes to the body, breath and mind that we cultivate on our yoga mats extend into our day-to-day life, supporting our sense of coping and even flourishing.
Yoga works on the underling causes of anxiety and low mood.
A wealth of research shows yoga helps people from all walks of life to feel better in both mind and body. There will always be aspects of our past or present that are not in our control. Yoga gives us a sense of being able to manage and see more clearly how to move forward to squeeze more joy and peace out of the messiness that is life.
By moving our body in shapes that challenge patterns and habits of tension, we sense a lightness and ease in the soft tissues that spreads to our mind state – relaxing worries and increasing our vitality. I have been practicing yoga for over 20 years and don’t know how I would survive without my regular arrival on my yoga mat to greet the day
You don’t need a long, strenuous routine.
The good news is It does not need to be an hour-long affair – 20 minutes of good quality yoga that moves you and grounds you is all that you need to start the day with a lightness in your step and in your heart. There’s no doubt that posture affects our mood, and our mood affects our posture. Try slumping your spine as you read and notice the impact. Yoga works by breaking up our habitual way of holding our body and opening the breath this has a profound impact on our mood and sense of vitality.
One of the recent findings from neuroscience is that enhancing enteroception (our awareness of our body and its state) supports mental health. By tuning in and listening with an open and receptive heart, we learn to make small adjustments to our body and patterns of breathing, leading to balance in our physiology such as the heart rate, muscle tension, and chemicals in the brain and body that support wellness.
Yoga has many benefits
All of these benefits have been shown to help trauma survivors by chipping away at the protection and dissociation that are features of PTSD. I have been working with several Psychologists for the past 4 years supporting their clients on the road to healthier minds by simply finding yoga tools such as gentle movement and breathing practices from the Yoga tradition. All of this is very encouraging for those struggling with mental health issues as it sheds light on the ways we can move toward healing and learning to live with the uncertainty and pain of living.
The good news is that yoga reminds us that beneath the layers of struggle, there’s a part of all of us that yoga practice slowly uncovers that knows peace, contentment and creatively attuning to life.
The way I teach yoga is accessible to all and highly effective for improving mental health. Some people prefer to start with a few private lessons then move to group classes or home practice and others go straight for group classes.
So maybe you thought you could not practice yoga because you’re too stiff, too old or don’t own a pair of lycra pants! That’s not true at all. These are all myths and I can help you bust them and learn feel good over and over again.