The mental health benefits of yoga are significant. While you may know about the physical benefits of yoga practice, you might not realise the effect it can have on the brain and mind too.
Combining physical postures, deep breathing and meditative awareness, yoga offers a whole mind-body experience.
In this article we explain some of the many benefits yoga can have on your mental health and wellbeing.
Reduces Stress, Improves Relaxation
One mental health benefit of yoga is that it helps reduce stress and eases you into a state of relaxation. Stress causes the central nervous system to trigger a release of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol, these put the body in a state of flight or fight and may cause you to feel overwhelmed.
Through relaxing your body, controlling your breath and focussing your mind, yoga helps you to soothe the central nervous system.
A yoga practice can activate the release of hormones such as dopamine and serotonin, which help you to feel happier. As these hormones increase, cortisol and adrenaline levels decrease so after a session, you will find it easier to wind down and relax.
Mindfulness is about living in the present moment. It helps us to become more aware of our feelings and better manage our thoughts. Practising mindfulness can not only help you to feel less stressed but it can also improve your memory and concentration.
Yoga is a mind-body practice. In Sanskrit, the meaning of the word ‘yoga’ is to unite by creating harmony between the mind and body. Mindfulness has always been a part of yoga.
Using techniques to bring awareness to your physical activity, yoga asks you to focus your mind. Your teacher will encourage you to be conscious of your body and what is comfortable, helping you to become more aware of yourself.
Offers Relief from Depression and Anxiety
People with depression and/or anxiety may find that yoga can offer respite from these conditions. Yoga practice will encourage you to take the focus away from negative thoughts and help you to feel more relaxed.
Practicing yoga can be a safe and natural way to better manage your symptoms, using the mind-body approach.
Please note: yoga is not considered as a therapy for depression or anxiety. If you are concerned about your mental health, please speak to your GP or get support through the NHS’s Every Mind Matters.
Boosting your confidence may not be a mental health benefit you expect from yoga, but it really does help build your self-esteem.
Using mindful movements and deep breathing, will help you feel more in control of your body. It helps bring difficulties into perspective. Working up to mastering certain poses will give you a feeling of empowerment and ultimately boost your self-esteem.
On top of this, improvements to your posture and physical benefits will help you to feel happier and healthier. The healthier you are, the more confident you will feel.
Mood swings can be caused by many factors including hormonal imbalances, stress or lack of sleep. Outbursts can harm yourself and others around you.
Help keep your mood swings in check with regular yoga practice. By decreasing your stress, reducing feelings of overwhelm and helping you to become more self-aware, yoga will provide you with a sanctuary during difficult times.
Giving yourself time to focus on your own wellbeing will help you to see greater improvements in your overall mood.
Increases Brain Processing
The combination of postures, breathing and meditation has been found to alter structural changes in the brain. It can increase the amount of grey matter, that makes up your brain. This is good because the more grey matter you have, the more likely you are to perform better.
Another structural change is that yoga can increase the folds on the surface of your brain. These folds contain your brain cells, so more fold means more brain cells.
Regular yoga practice can not only cause certain areas of your brain to increase in size, but it also affects how you process your emotions, stress, and anxiety.
Boosts Your Productivity
Another great mental benefit of yoga, for busy bodies especially, is that it can help boost your productivity. We know that yoga can help reduce stress and help you to relax – things which affect your productivity levels.
Yoga practice will help you to clear your mind and improve your concentration. Techniques you pick up from classes can be used during a hectic day to help you reset and refresh your thinking.
As well as this, the boost to your confidence and happiness will help motivate you to get things done. Stress and low mood can be a catalyst for poor productivity. Yoga helps you to overcome all these things!
Lowers Fatigue Levels
Regular yoga can help you to sleep better, especially if you suffer from insomnia. Different styles of yoga can have different effects on your mind and body.
Vinyasa yoga tends to be more of a workout, which will help you feel more ready for bed. Hatha yoga offers a gentler practice, helping you to feel more relaxed and restful.
Meditation aspects within yoga practices will help you to clear your mind of any negative thoughts that might be keeping you up at night. Practice that focuses on breathing and awareness of the present moment will help you to improve your sleep quality.
Start Feeling the Mental Health Benefits of Yoga by Booking a Class
At Uckfield Yoga Studio, we have more than 25 sessions of yoga every week. There is something to suit everyone as we provide a wide variety of classes to match your needs and tastes.
Yoga practice is a way of nourishing your wellbeing on all levels – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually and you will feel the benefits after every class. It is also a great way to stretch your muscles, build strength, chill out and tune in to the peaceful part of yourself.
Our teachers are qualified, experienced and willing to share their knowledge. Whatever stage you are at, they will welcome you into our non-judgemental space and support you with regular yoga practice through your health journey.
Find out more about the classes we offer at Uckfield Yoga Studio.
Currently, we are offering classes in the studio (up to 6 participants) and sessions online through Zoom. Check our timetable to find the yoga class you have been searching for.