Yoga for Mental Health: Benefits, Types and Steps to Practice

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The mention of yoga dates back to 5000 years in Rig Veda. Though an old practice, it has been effective in healing health conditions from chronic pain to anxiety disorder.

More surprisingly, you’ll put your mind to work better. You can think of yoga as a means to pump your brain.

Let’s learn how yoga can help. 

3 Benefits of Yoga for Mental Health

There is plenty of positivity that yoga can bring to your mental health, they are: 

Uplifts Your Mind 

  • Typically nobody prefers to be in an unpleasant mood. Due to certain conditions, we are bound to experience it.
  • Instead, you can increase GABA levels (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid)  in your brain!
  • GABA is an amino acid that functions as a neurotransmitter. It relieves anxiety, promotes sleep, and protects the brain.
  • Yoga can do so by lowering the stress hormones and releasing feel-good chemicals such as GABA and endorphins. That way your anxiety gets suppressed and your mood is uplifted.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep 

  • Certain poses in yoga help promote sleep because of their meditative benefits which can be practiced before bedtime.
  • For the same hatha yoga and nidra poses are beneficial.

Improve self-awareness 

  • Most of us are not aware of what’s going on with ourselves. Being in a continuous unaware state of mind might have caused that chronic emotional strain. But when you inculcate yoga as a daily habit and be conscious of every practice, you can prevent that damage.
  • You can move towards giving importance to yourself and also doing better things for yourself.

How to practice yoga for mental health?

You might find plenty of resources out there to just start right in. But hold on to that thought!

If you can’t get the basic rights, then any effort is of no benefit. You can understand what it does but the actual learning comes when someone teaches you out of daily practice and experiences. They understand it much better than our initial perception towards trying it.

Learn in a group or individually and get your poses right, modify them on the spot when you get them wrong from a qualified teacher.

3 Types of Yoga for Mental Health

There are forms of yoga that are meant to improve mental health if you practice and here they are. 

1. Hatha Yoga

It has techniques that combine asanas and some breathing exercises in it. This yoga is the foundation to practice any other forms of yoga and is suitable for anyone who just wants to begin a yoga practice. 

Its main purpose is to cleanse the soul and body and this yoga can last for about 90 minutes. The practice is seen to have reduced the stress levels among practitioners. 

2. Ashtanga Yoga

This deals with doing a lot of poses and there are transitions from one to another. The form of yoga is meant to add mindfulness to your life.

It helps you connect the inner and external energies through discipline, right deeds, exercise, and meditation.

The way to achieve it is to practice the 8 limbs which includes:

  • yama,
  • niyama,
  • asana,
  • pranayama,
  • pratyahara,
  • dharana,
  • dhyana,
  • samadhi.

With a practice that lasts for about 90 minutes, the moves are controlled by breathing. 

A study has mentioned its effectiveness in improving the mental health of both adults and children after 9 weeks of practice.

3. Kundalini Yoga

The energy in this yoga is compared to a coiled snake and this yoga believes in unfolding the energy within us. That’s only possible when 7 chakras are activated. So the energy will flow from the spine to the head’s crown.

Why do you have to do this for mental health if you think it helps in increasing your self-awareness? It does so by calming your mind and by opening the chakras for the flow of energy.

Here’s what is heard of this from an Indian author, it can bring happiness by increasing the production of serotonin in the brain. This will involve chanting before you start, performing kriyas with regulated breathwork, and ending with meditation.

Yoga for Anxiety and Depression

  • Depression and anxiety are two such phenomena that are energy-deprived. It’s commonly very draining that you hardly find something good to happen.
  • The study has shown that people who have been actively doing yoga for at least 60 minutes for two and a half months have seen their depression symptoms lowered.
  • The point to note here is the effect of slow breathing that has helped in calming the behavior. The stressors in our lives can be resolved by yoga to reduce the overpowering impact of anxiety and depression.
  • You see most people are reluctant to have prescribed drugs over time and they are looking for the alternative. Yoga is a non-medicinal practice that has become more reliable that way. 
  • When you learn the art of breath control, it can help you deal with panic attacks. More importantly, you can reduce anxiousness that way and keep it under control.
  • When you are in practice, you’ll move your focus on a pose rather than on the mind, taking its attention to live in the present. Thus allowing you to be away from anxious thoughts.
  • Know that, if there is anxiousness it means you have less control over your thoughts, you can get that sense of control if you take charge. Yoga can help you do that!

Related: Major Benefits of Yoga for Anxiety and Depression

The Wrap

Anxiety and depression are sensitive and shouldn’t be taken lightly regarding mental health. They can be cured in non-medical ways too. Try and feel the benefits that yoga can add to your life.

If there is anything that’s disturbing your mind, it’s a disturbance in your mental health. Fitness with Nidhi is a yoga practitioner who can assist you in coming up with personalized yoga routine plans to improve your mental health. Do you want to take control of your mind and keep it in its best state of mind?

Let me help you bring that positivity into your life!

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About the author

Nidhi Gupta is an ACE certified personal trainer and nutritionist with over 10 years of experience helping people reach their fitness goals. She is passionate about helping people live healthier lives and loves sharing her knowledge and expertise with others. Get in touch with her to learn more about how she can help you on your fitness journey.
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