While it is well known that yoga delivers significant physical health advantages, ancient practice also offers a host of mental health benefits. The physical changes that happen during yoga combined with the increased sense of mental awareness can provide meaningful changes to your emotional state. Here are three ways that yoga benefits your mental health as you learn to relax and let go of what worries you.
While a healthy amount of stress in your life is not necessarily a bad thing, significantly high levels of stress can negatively affect your overall health in numerous ways. Learning how to breathe through a stretch teaches the brain how to cope with stress and pain (although yoga and stretching should never be painful) without panicking. Stress actually restricts blood flow to your muscles, causing tension. Stretching counters this by restoring blood flow, reducing tension, and eliminating the stress stored in that tension. The gentle slow movements of yoga also create an ideal environment for practicing mindfulness and getting better in touch with your own body.
Yoga is an invaluable tool when looking to calm anxiety and lead a more peaceful life. Breathing is one of the foundational principles of yoga, so practicing yoga can help combat anxiety through controlled breathing. Deep breathing activates the body’s relaxation response which will naturally decrease the levels of cortisol in your body. Because it is this natural chemical that leads to stress in the body, decreasing the cortisol will automatically serve to reduce stress levels. This overall feeling of calmness will work to naturally relieve anxiety. The best part about this is that you can use this principle anywhere you go to get immediate benefits — no ridiculous yoga poses required.
Seasoned yogis understand the immense feeling of satisfaction that comes with practicing this unique mind-body exercise. Learning to listen to your body will automatically deliver positive feelings of well-being. Taking the time to practice yoga raises the levels of both serotonin and oxytocin in the body. An increase in these feel-good chemicals naturally leads to a boost in feelings of happiness. The regular use of yoga as a mood enhancer will also reduce blood pressure levels, helping to calm both the body and the mind.
As yoga forces you to focus on your mind, body, and soul, the overall benefits to your body are vast. Learning to be aware of your body and breathing offers an array of mental health benefits that will improve your overall quality of life.
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