You Should Start Doing Yoga for Your Mental Health
A lot of people think that they can't do yoga because they aren't flexible or coordinated. The truth is that yoga isn't about postures and poses. It's about connecting to you. As I've made it a regular part of my life, yoga has drastically improved my mental health.
Yoga Basics: Breath
Everything you do in yoga starts with your breath. Your breath is your metronome, your energy beam, your fuel. Your inhales fill you up, and your exhales soften your whole body. When your focus is on connecting to your breath, it doesn't matter if you can put your legs behind your head (plus, that sounds like it would really hurt).
You can try a simple breathing exercise right now. Wherever you are, take a deep breath in. Hold it at the top for three seconds. Now let it all out. Keep this going, pointing your awareness to your breath. If you notice your attention going elsewhere, gently beckon it back to your breath. Do this however long you need.
How did that feel? You just did yoga. You can come back to this yoga exercise for a mental health check-in. Usually, when I start feeling anxious, I slow down my breath and try to notice it flowing in and out of my body, like waves.
Yoga Basics: Relax
A common misconception is that yoga is physically exhausting. Sure, sometimes you can work up a sweat, but it doesn't have to be that way all the time. In fact, if your body isn't relaxed, you can't move well. Imagine trying to climb a tree with all your limbs stiff and your muscles flexed. Seems impossible, right?
As you're reading this, do a quick scan of your body for any tension you might be holding on to. Maybe give your neck and shoulders a little roll, or let your eyes drift closed. Soften the muscles in your jaw, and relax your forehead. Take a deep breath in, and feel your body lift. Now let it all out.
Do you feel any different? A little more relaxed? We all know that we could do with more calm in our lives. With all the relaxation that comes from it, it's no wonder that yoga and mental health are connected.
Yoga and Mental Health
The difference that yoga made for my mental health was like night and day. I felt more in tune with my emotions, and because of that, I felt like I could manage them better. If I practiced yoga in the morning, I felt relaxed throughout the day. In stressful moments, I often came back to the peace that I can create through slowing down, breathing, and relaxing in yoga.
Yoga can be a small part of your life or a big one--you can choose. If you incorporate it into your routine, even slightly, you will have more tools for mental health resilience. Breathing and relaxation skills are proven to reduce anxiety and connect you to yourself. Take a chance and give yoga a try.
Annabelle is a certified yoga practitioner.
Clawson, A. (2021, March 11). You Should Start Doing Yoga for Your Mental Health, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, February 6 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/mentalhealthforthedigitalgeneration/2021/3/you-should-start-doing-yoga-for-your-mental-health