These Yoga Poses Can Benefit Your Mental Health
Yoga and mental health: Yoga can calm your mind. On a physical level, you may find that your sleep pattern improves, appetite improves, the digestion system resets itself and, the menstrual cycle gets regulated.
Yoga can help you have better clarity of mind
- Practicing yoga regularly helps discipline ourselves
- Yoga helps us in understanding our breath
- Breathing is the base for most yoga practices
Yoga and mental health: There is a deep and direct connection between yoga and mental health. One of the major factors affecting mental health is stress. Never has there been a greater need to pay attention to our mental health than now. With the uncertainty of the pandemic and lack of human contact, the amount of stress seems to be increasing day by day. The state of our mind may not get reflected in our physical behaviour and could get ignored. In most cases, we are unable to understand what we are feeling mentally and emotionally and hence we fail to acknowledge any disturbances. This can lead to lack of self-confidence, insomnia, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and more. However, if the severity gets detected by an individual or their loved ones, it can definitely be addressed through the practice of yoga.
Practicing yoga regularly helps discipline ourselves and, over time, our thoughts. But most importantly, yoga helps us in understanding our breath. In the Yoga Sutras, breath is defined to be Prana or the life force and energy. Breathing is the base for most yoga practices. In the asanas, the slower you breathe the more comfortable you are in the pose; in Pranayama the techniques consist of the act of breathing itself. Breathing slowly helps calm down the mind which is directly related to the reduction of stress.
Often, due to hearsay, we rush to learn pranayama techniques in a bid to alter our state of breath or mind. However, in my experience, we should start with gentle breathing methods such as abdominal breathing or even the practice of yoga nidra. These are more effective in soothing our nervous system and our mind, and also help with transitioning to more advanced techniques and meditation smoothly .Pranayama techniques help with improving the breathing pattern and increasing lung capacity. Once the breathing pattern is corrected, it stimulates a calm state of mind. It helps release physical, mental, and emotional blocks.
The saying, "when you get angry, take five deep breaths" is completely valid. Once you take those five deep breaths, you feel calm and your reaction settles down.
Meditative poses like sukhasana, padmasana, and vajrasana help with bringing full awareness to our breath. vrikshasana, garudasana, utkatasana, utthita hasta padangusthasana, natrajasana, virabhadrasana series all help with increasing focus and bringing about a sense of stability and balance. These asanas help develop the functions of the cerebellum or the brain centre that controls how the body works in motion. Heart openers or Back bends like chakrasana, bhujangasana, ushtrasana, matsyasana, and ardha chandrasana help with expansion of the chest, improve inhalation, and boost confidence levels. Forward folds like janusirshasana, paschimottanasana and parsvottanasana help with chest compression and exhalation. They are associated with removing rigidity at the mental and physical level. Spinal twists like ardh matsyendrasana, maricyasana, and parivrtta janu sirsasana help with the abdominal functions and release knots within the system. Inverted asanas increase the blood flow to our brain and are physically, mentally and, emotionally rejuvenating. These include sirsasana, sarvangasana, halasana and their variations. A good practice is a combination of balancing postures, forward folds, backbends, twists, and inversions. Focus on breath through simple meditative postures or pranayama techniques; this leads to one feeling balanced on and off the mat.
Once your mind is calm, there are numerous changes you witness. On a physical level, you may find that your sleep pattern improves, appetite improves, the digestion system resets itself and, the menstrual cycle gets regulated. Internally, you tend to have more clarity in your mind, your confidence level increases and, you are able to deal with repressed emotions. You improve communication with others and are able to control your reaction to situations.
*Reference: Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha by Swami Satyananda Saraswati
*As a beginner, please practice under the guidance of a teacher to understand the importance of alignment.
(Juhie is certified from the Yoga Institute Mumbai (200 hrs) and Indea Yoga Mysore (500 hrs) as a Hatha Yoga Instructor.)
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