Enhancing Mental Health with Yoga

Having lived through and survived a pandemic, we may never look at our general health the same way. While many of us think that our physical health should be dealt with utmost importance, people have tended to ignore the state of their minds. Not any more. Today, mental health is a much talked about topic. As much as we want to be physically healthy, our mental health needs to be cared for as well. Maintaining our overall well-being also means making sure that we are healthy not just in the body but also in the mind. And it’s especially important as we navigate such challenging times as these. 

There are various ways on how to care for our mental health, but right now, we’re focusing on one of the most effective and beloved wellness activities: yoga. And with the International Yoga Day celebration this June 21, we feel it’s important to highlight the key benefits of yoga beyond the purely physical. This centuries-old ancient practice has also been known to benefit our minds in many ways.

yoga for mental health

International Yoga Day 2021

2021 marks the sixth annual International Yoga Day on June 21. The celebration intends to inform people how beneficial yoga can be. The date was particularly picked because it is considered the Summer Solstice, a day in the year with the longest hours of daytime sun. 

In September 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi first mentioned the idea of dedicating a day for yoga in his UN General Assembly speech. He pointed out how India’s ancient tradition represents “unity of mind and body; thought and action, restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being.”

The majority of the member states supported this resolution, and it has been celebrated all around the world, yearly, ever since.

Yoga can help improve mental health 

Yoga is a wellness activity that’s been practiced for thousands of years. It is generally believed to have started in India. Yoga has also become a popular exercise routine for many Americans today, both adults and children. But this stretching plus breathing wellness activity is more than just intended for the betterment of our physical health. Yoga is designed to connect the body and mind. It’s also known to have mental health advantages. Here are several of them:

Yoga helps relieve anxiety and stress

When faced with constant stress in your life, having a daily yoga routine is one way to help alleviate that. A study from Healthline cited the impact of yoga on women, in which after three months, stress levels are lowered. In another study, yoga has also proven to ease anxiety among participants. What happens is yoga lowers the release of stress hormones.

Photo courtesy of Le Monastêre des Augustines, Quebec City

Yoga helps develop a positive outlook 

One of the known effects of yoga is its ability to help people deal with their feelings. It’s because yoga is a popular mindfulness activity. In turn, it helps people to cope with stress and anxiety, as mentioned before. It promotes awareness and mindfulness. Therefore, yoga helps improve our mindset and allows us to find inner peace and self-control. Moreover, this can result in a boost in self-confidence, thereby improving one’s personality. 

Yoga helps in reducing depression

Yoga is also cited for reducing depression symptoms among practitioners. Basically, this ancient wellness activity helps in lowering cortisol levels (which induces stress and even anxiety). Yoga can be an effective supplement to other treatments or approaches to depression. Yoga can also allow practitioners to connect with nature, which also invites peacefulness and calmness.

Yoga can improve sleep quality

If you’re struggling to sleep or your sleep quality is poor, we highly recommend you to try out yoga. Although the connection is not that clear yet, one study explained how yoga could be linked to sleep quality. This might be due to the relaxation of muscles during yoga positions, which in effect can turn into a deeper sleep later on. Another link between yoga and sleep could be the lowered stress and anxiety, which cause sleep disturbance. Four yoga poses to help improve your sleep.

The good thing about yoga is that it’s not just for adult women. Kids and men can also reap benefits that are good for their mental well-being. It’s a perfect family activity. It can be done with friends or alone. It can easily fit into any lifestyle. And the impact on our health, both physical health and mental health, cannot be overstated. 

Now more than ever, we need to make the pursuit of good health a priority. If you’re already practicing yoga, keep it up! And if you’re just starting out or have not tried it at all, why not join the millions of people all over the world this International Yoga Day? Work a little yoga into your life. Do it for the sake of your own mental health.  

Another article you may like:

7 Reasons Yoga is More Essential than Ever Right Now