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How Becoming A Yoga Practitioner Will Help Improve Your Mental Health

Updated on March 16, 2017

Mental health is something that many people struggle with on a daily basis. There are many various treatment options with mental health that fit various needs, wants, and lifestyles. One common way people try to improve their mental health is through exercise, whether that be intense physical exercise or more relaxing styles. Yoga is a form of exercise that has been practiced for quite some time, and is known for it’s benefits to mental health. Yoga is a popular form of exercise because it can be tailored to a specific individual and that individual’s needs. When done correctly, yoga has the ability to improve your cognitive abilities and even change the way you see the world around you. While you might know about many of the physical benefits of yoga, here is a closer look at some of the ways this practice will impact your mental and psychological health.

It Slows Cognitive Decline

We have known for many years that exercise can slow the rate of cognitive decline as we grow older. Unfortunately, certain forms of exercise can also put an incredible amount of stress on our bodies, and that has a negative impact on the mental benefits. Yoga stimulates the mind in a similar manner to running or lifting weights, but it does not produce the same stress hormones. Yoga has long been known as a relaxing exercise that helps reduce stress and anxiety while gently working the muscles and help the body get physical exercise in. Yoga as a practice has the ability to boost an individual's mental faculties without overwhelming their system.

Yoga And PTSD

Yoga teachers often work closely alongside trained counselors to help those who are dealing with PTSD. If you have recently begun a masters degree in counseling program, then you will most likely learn about alternative PTSD treatments in the near future. When combined with ongoing support and therapy, physical activities such as yoga can be very beneficial to those who are struggling with past traumatic experiences. The gentle movements of yoga can help ease sore and tight muscles and be a good form of exercise to complete when you have old injuries that make other forms of exercise hard to handle. The nice thing about yoga as well is that it is a great exercise to complete on your own or in a class. Yoga is very adaptable and can be personalized to meet your need or the level of physical activity that you’re comfortable with.

Dealing With Anger And Depression

When left untreated, chronic anger and depression can have a major impact on an individual's physical and mental health. One of the most effective ways to deal with these issues is to practice mindfulness during yoga. Mindfulness is the act of purposefully focusing on yourself and your feelings in order to gain clarity. Yoga is a great way to help you focus on your current situation and really be present where you are instead of focusing on problems or having your mind wander elsewhere. The mental clarity, as well as the opportunity to exercise and work out some of the stress makes yoga a very efficient way to deal with excess anger and depression. While this practice is not easy, it can be extremely therapeutic when done correctly. Keep in mind that while yoga can help with anger and depression, you should always consult a mental health professional in regards to how you handle your mental health and the treatment options you choose. As you are undergoing treatment it is also a good idea to periodically check in with your mental healthcare professional and discuss what is working and what isn’t working. It is often easier to practice mindfulness during steady-state activities such as yoga.

A Positive Outlook On Life

A 2010 study conducted at the Boston School of Medicine revealed that yoga can alter the way an individual perceives their current circumstances and future. This phenomenon takes place because yoga actually boosts brain gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels for days at a time. Patients who have low GABA levels tend to struggle with much higher rates of mild depression, anxiety, and general lethargy.

Yoga can be a great addition to any comprehensive physical or mental health program. Along with consulting a mental healthcare professional and coming up with a treatment plan, yoga can help boost mental health. After weeks of consistent practice, many people find themselves at peace with their past and satisfied with the world around them.

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