by Bipin Baloni
5 Ways Yoga Benefits Your Mental Health
Usually, the figure of a contorted human in a complex pose is what comes to mind when we think of yoga. But, that is not what yoga is all about. Yoga which comes from the word ‘Yuj’ means union. Yoga is more of a psychology where the focus is primarily on creating a connection or union with the body and mind. Yoga works with the energy that is locked in the body through ‘Prana’ or breath. With gradual practice, one learns to release this stored energy and reach a higher state of awareness, wellness, and mindfulness. Apart from blessing us a plethora of health benefits, yoga has a profound effect on mental health as well. Here are 5 ways through which yoga has a positive effect on our mental health.
Our daily lives revolve around hectic schedules starting from chores at home to office work and from deadlines to traveling from one place to another, etc. which brings a lot of stress and anxiety. And the result of this increased stress is the onset of diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and more. Yoga can beat the stress associated with daily life if practiced on a regular basis. Research has proved that yoga is a GABA booster where GABA means Gamma Aminobutyric Acid. The main role of GABA is to put a stop on the activities of the brain and help it relax. The deep breaths associated with different asanas calms the nervous system of the body. This leads to a calming effect on the brain and the entire body feels relaxed.
Enhances Concentration and Memory
The revered, age-old sourcebook ‘Yoga Sutras’ written by sage ‘Patanjali’ enlightens us about the practice of Ashtanga yoga or eight-limbed yoga. The 6th limb of Ashtanga yoga is ‘dharana’ which means concentration. Yoga practitioners of Ashtanga yoga are taught to concentrate their mind at a single object which can be either internal or external. This leads to profound improvement in concentration as well as memory. With more and more practice, yogi practitioners are able to clear away all the noise from their mind and focus their attention to a single point without any difficulty. This practice also helps to improve memory since is the mind remains a lot more stable and calm.
Helps to Connect with the ‘Self’
As yoga is the unification of the body, mind, and soul, therefore with gradual practice we create a better connection with our inner selves. And when that happens, we feel a lot better and confident from inside. This is the beauty of this ancient science where regular practitioners begin cultivating a non-judgmental and positive attitude towards themselves. The mind opens up and our self-consciousness improves helping us to become more compassionate and kind towards ourselves. When that happens, we also become better human beings. Bhagawad Gita (sacred Hindu text) states that “Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.”
Rewires the Brain
With constant positive thoughts, deep breathing techniques and calmness, the brain actually gets rewired with yoga. Research at National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Bethesda has proved with MRI scans that yogis who regularly practice yoga have more grey matter than people who don’t do yoga. It was found out that the somatosensory cortex contained more brain volume in regular practitioners of yoga. The powerful effect of asanas combined with breathing and meditation certainly creates a healthy impact resulting in better functioning of the brain.
Diminishes Trauma Effects
We have all heard of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) at some point in time in our lives. Generally, people who have been part of the armed forces or people who have been abused at different ages, develop this condition. This is a serious disorder where the affected finds it hard to sleep at night, has nightmares and flashbacks making life very difficult. However, thanks to the immense benefits of yoga, people have now found a way to beat PTSD and move to a better future. Hatha Yoga which focuses on the mastery of body by attaining spiritual perfection is especially helpful in case of people suffering from PTSD. From being a stress reliever to building core body strength, Hatha Yoga has is an amazing way to take life from the dark to the light.
Author Bio: Bipin Baloni is a passionate Yogi, Yoga Teacher and a Traveller in India. He provides Ayurvedic Treatment In Kerala. He loves writing and reading books related to yoga, health, nature and the Himalayas.