2 Mental Benefits of Yoga
1. Reduces stress and anxiety
It is probably no surprise to hear that yoga reduces stress and anxiety. And let’s be honest, we are all probably struggling in this department! After all, we are all human!
Anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States. And, although anxiety is treatable, only 36.9% of the 40 million adults suffering actually receive treatment. As for children, 25.1% have an anxiety disorder, increasing their risk of poor academic and social skills.
Through the practice of yoga, we learn how to slow down and focus our attention. As we physically slow down, we mentally and emotionally begin to slow down as well. The nervous system naturally relaxes and we are better able to engage in the present moment. This allows us to make rational decisions, deal with difficult situations, and find a sense of peace.
Yoga poses that aid in anxiety relief includes Child’s Pose, Downward Facing Dog, Tree Pose, and Corpse Pose.
Angela Wilson, LMHC, RYT 500, and Kripalu faculty presenter, offers sound advice when using yoga to decrease anxiety and stress. Wilson acknowledges that we do not always have time to make an actual yoga class, so short yet frequent practices are better than nothing. Wilson also suggests trying a variety of yoga types (Yin, Restorative, Vinyasa, etc.), finding a space that feels comfortable to practice within, practice breathing!
2. Teaches present moment awareness
As mentioned above, yoga teaches us how to embrace the present moment. During yoga poses, such as balancing ones tend to force us to be in the present moment. If we were to practice Tree Pose with our mind wondering and worrying about every little thing that has to be done, we might find ourselves wobbling and eventually falling out of the pose. It is through these moments of falling out that we realize we have to truly be in the moment and not focus on every little thing going through the mind. When we can focus in the pose and find a Drishti, or focal point, we feel steady, stable, and strong.
The yoga practice challenges us to remain in the present moment amidst the chaos that might be surrounding us.
The benefits of yoga are significant. Not only is yoga a physical exercise, but it is an exercise for both the mind and breath as well. One of the greatest assets of yoga is that is truly has no prerequisites and so anyone and everyone can reap its benefits.