Yoga has become incredibly popular in recent years due to its proven benefits on physical health ranging from improved flexibility and pain management, to even helping chronic illnesses.
Yoga has also been shown to help mental health, helping recovery or reducing the symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as improving cognitive function and performance.
In this article, we'll discuss how the regular practice of yoga can deliver results for our brain and overall mental health.
Yoga can fight against Depression
There is large body of research out there demonstrating the benefits of yoga towards fighting depression. One study where individuals completed 20 yoga sessions resulted in an improvement in mood levels alongside a decrease in stress and anxiety.
Another study of young adults with symptoms of mild depression showed that fortnightly yoga sessions delivered improved results in mood and reduced fatigue.
Yoga can relieve Stress
Stress and anxiety are closely linked; yoga can play an important role in relieving both. Yoga can alleviate stress by reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol, while improving the body's natural stress response through the modulation of breathing, heart rate and blood pressure.
With the use of MRI scanners (magnetic resonance imaging), it was shown that yoga helps improve brain performance and can protect our brain from the decline that comes with age.
Yoga can help patients with Psychiatric Disorders
Researchers demonstrated that yoga practice can help individuals with bipolar disorder to better manage their symptoms; in specific, helping improve emotions, mood and cognition.
Yoga poses you can Perform
There are a number of different poses you can adopt when in a class or at home to help improve your mental state.
Savasana - Corpse Pose (our favourite!)
Sukhasana - Easy Pose
Ūrdhva Mukha Svānāsana - Upward Facing Dog Pose
Supta Baddha Konasana – Reclined Bound Angle Pose
Viparita Karani - Legs up the Wall Pose
Garudasana - Eagle Pose
If you're unsure how to perform these poses safely, we'd recommend checking out Yoga Journal's online pose library.
Whether suffering from mental issues or not, yoga can help all of us improve our mental state in both the short and long term. Trying a few, if not all, of the poses above regularly and see what difference it makes to both your practice and also in your daily life.
Marios Kokolakis is a health and fitness motivator and in his free time writes blogs on exercises that can improve brain performance and supplements for focus, promoting a healthy lifestyle in the natural way. Find out more on BrainSharp’s website.