Tag Archives: yoga

Meditation & Mental Health

5 Apr

Yoga is not only used as exercise but has also been known to have a large positive impact on mental health wellbeing because of its calming, relaxing techniques and sense of community. It can help restore mind and body harmony.

Different poses in yoga can help different parts of the body with its focuses on breathing, physical and mental ability. Many people have been helped through depression, stress and anxiety because of the positive benefits of yoga.

When a person suffers from depression some of the common symptoms are lack of sleep so you feel tired a lot of the time, difficulty in concentration, negative thoughts and irritable. This can also then make you feel extremely stressed, uptight and tense, the depression and stress could then make a person feel anxious. Life can feel out of control causing fear and panic.

Yoga has both physical and mental disciplines. So much can happen in people’s lives throughout a day whether it is caring for family, health issues, and work stress. Yoga disciplines people to take time out, instead of thinking and worrying all the time. Dealing with depression, stress or anxiety can put your body under so much strain alone. Thinking constantly and worrying about situations before they occur, erratic breathing, feelings of tiredness and hopelessness, life these days can feel like you are on a rollercoaster that goes round constantly with no time to stop and think. This is where yoga can really work, by taking from 5 minutes as and when you get time up to over an hour a day depending on a person’s time and routine helps you to stop and solely focus.

One of the big things yoga concentrates on is breathing. It helps calm and focus the mind giving relief. If you are feeling very anxious usually your breathing will be quite erratic. Yoga will help regulate breathing and regulate tension by using various postures. One popular posture used is sitting down on the floor or lying flat, letting your body relax and take deep breaths through the nose, breathing slowly and deeply brings oxygen to the lowest part of your lungs and exercises your diaphragm. The yoga breathing teaches us to breathe through the nose, to lengthen our exhalation, increasing our physical and mental health. By concentrating solely on your breath as you inhale and exhale you learn to focus on the breathing and relax rather than on the feelings of anxiety and stress. Breathing exercises are something that can be practised anywhere, so if stress at work was a factor it can even be practised sitting in an office chair.

When a person is stressed some of the symptoms can be a faster heartbeat, increased blood pressure, difficulty relaxing and focusing the mind, headaches and tense muscles. Some episodes of the stress and the symptoms can then cause anxiety and depression. Yoga helps decrease physiological arousal – that’s the heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration. In order to change exaggerated stress response it is necessary to become familiar with relaxation. Yoga practice provides the time and space to experience the sensations of the body, and to interpret them. Is the breath short, are the muscles tense?

By learning to relax in yoga this reduces production of stress hormone cortisol and improves the ability to manage stressful situations as well as other benefits which can come along with stress, anxiety and depression such as, greater energy and focus, improved muscle tone and cardiovascular health. Greater levels of happiness, self-confidence and an increase in job satisfaction.

Everyone suffers from anxiety at one point or another in their life but chronic anxiety can have quite an impact on the body after a while. When people have a lot of anxiety and do not exercise this causes tense muscles, constricted breathing and the mind never rests because of all the thoughts and feelings that come along with it. Yoga with music is great for anxiety, playing music that a person enjoys and finds particularly relaxing helps sooth the body. People with anxiety can try to keep busy to escape what they are feeling and thinking but it has been said that yoga helps the body to access an inner strength. This can help face the overwhelming thoughts, fears and frustrations of everyday life. By practising the exercises that yoga recommends daily this causes the body to release tensions from the large muscle groups and increase feelings of well-being, and encourage the body to breathe deeply.

In his book The Science of Yoga, writer William Broad assesses yoga’s ability to improve our mental health. He said:

*“The portrait that emerges from the decades of mood and metabolic studies is of a discipline that succeeds brilliants at smoothing the ups and downs of emotional life. It uses relaxation, breathing and postures to bring about an environment of inner bending and stretching. The current evidence seems to suggest that yoga can reduce despair and hopelessness to the point of saving lives”.* – The Science of Yoga, The risks & rewards by William J Broad – Page 87