“The body benefits from movement, and the mind benefits from stillness”
Anxiety, depression, stress, restlessness, and insomnia are common tribulations people endure on a daily basis. Sometimes the symptoms of these mental health problems can feel too hard to manage. In order for an individual to reach a level of inner peace and mental stability, they must recognize that the body and mind go hand-in-hand with one another.
When a person obtains mental control over their physical actions, they become better equipped in coping with their mental health struggles. Yoga is an effective, therapeutic method that is known to help people achieve self harmony.
What is Yoga Anyways?
- Yoga is a practice that has been around for thousands of years
- Deriving from the Hindu culture, yoga has made its way to becoming a popular fitness practice all around the world
- This discipline not only aims to challenge a person’s physical capabilities, but has a goal of pushing people past their mental limitations
- With the combination of controlled breathing and specific physical postures, yoga gives people a chance to become accordant with their minds and bodies
The Physical Impacts of Yoga
Consistent practice of yoga creates many physical benefits. Yoga is known to help:
- Lower blood pressure
- Strengthen muscles
- Increase awareness
- Improve respiratory efficiency
- Increases flexibility
- Improve posture
- Help with balance issues
- Improve memory
- Improve concentration
- Strengthen endurance
Yoga is constructed of several poses and postures – each that target their own specific body part. There are multiple styles of yoga that utilize each position differently for various benefits. Two of these popular styles include:
- Organized in groupings so that each posture flows from one to the next
- Forces you to work up a sweat with the increased temperature of the room and dynamic body motions
- More of a beginner style class because the sequences are slower-paced
- The postures are held longer so that the body becomes well stretched
No matter which type or style of yoga you are practicing, the largest focus is learning to link your breath with body movement. In a yoga class, you may hear the instructor reiterating to pay attention to and control your inhales and exhales. All of these positive physical benefits would not be possible without the use of a strong mind and mental focus.
The Mental Benefits of Yoga
The controlled yoga breath is a practice known as pranayama. The pranayama breath involves inhaling and exhaling solely through the nasal cavity with slow and focused breathing. Each exhale is meant to make a sound, similar to a monotone hum.
The purpose of creating a still breath is to create a still mind. This gives a person better discipline over their thoughts which influences the way they are able to perform every position.
Not only does yoga improve mental focus, but it also gives opportunity for personal meditation. Psychologically, yoga will help with all of the following:
- Elevate mood
- Decrease depression
- Helps to manage anxiety
- Aids in overcoming insomnia
- Decreases stress
These benefits occur for a few reasons…..
- Due to yoga’s controlled breathing standards, there is an increase of blood flow to the organs – most importantly the heart
- A healthy heart, results with a healthy mind and body
- Yoga’s physical movements trigger serotonin
- Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that promotes the feeling of happiness, which helps levels to increase
- It also decreases the production of cortisol
- Cortisol is a hormone that causes stress and is commonly found in patients with depression
Connection of the Body and Mind
There are no physical benefits without the involvement of the mind, and no mental benefits without physical association. Yoga connects physical breath with mental focus which results in a concentrated, still mind.
During the practice, your mind will feel at its emptiest because the only thing it should be focused on is your breathing. Physical movement should be in tune with your breath. For example, inhaling prompts one motion and exhaling will prompt the next. The harmony between the body and mind becomes so strong, it leaves you with a euphoric feeling.
Ways to Practice Yoga
- Look into nearby gyms and yoga studios to sign up for a yoga class
- There are beginner, intermediate, and advanced yoga classes offered
- A tip: some studios offer a free, first-time trial to try one of their classes
- Research different types yoga poses and their specific physical and mental benefits
- Perform these exercises in an open space of your choice.
- Watch videos on experts who teach the practice to become familiar with terminology and breathing strategies
Helpful Tips and Precautions
- Ask your physician if yoga is safe to practice
- Wear stretch and breathable fabrics
- For example, yoga pants with a sports bra
- If attending a class, bring a water bottle and a towel because it might get sweaty!
- Try it with a friend
- Always direct your attention to your breath and your energy to your own personal practice
- Never give up
- Keep an open mind
- Most importantly, have a good time!