Yoga and Mental Health

Yoga and Mental Health

Those who practice yoga know that their practice will help improve their mood and give them a greater sense of wellbeing. Whether it be a sweaty vinyasa class, five minutes of meditation, or a yummy yin yoga class. Each style of yoga has a way to bring a greater sense of harmony. It is widely known and accepted that yoga has a beneficial impact on one’s physical, mental, and emotional state of being. Studies and clinical trials conducted in recent years have testified to this beneficial impact time and time again. Yoga influences the physical body, the mind, and the nervous system in a variety of ways. Different practices affect the body and mind differently as well. So why is it that yoga makes us feel so good?

Firstly, and perhaps most obviously, yoga helps us physically. Asana practice encourages the flow of energy throughout all of our body systems. It also helps to build both strength and flexibility, depending on the style of yoga being practiced. Building strength and flexibility can help relieve physical aches and pains, in particular back pain that affects so many in the Western world due to our stagnant lifestyle of sitting at desks for extended periods. More dynamic practices such as vinyasa yoga, which is a very popular style for 200 hour yoga teacher training course in Bali, help to build both muscular strength and flexibility. When we experience less pain and inflammation in the body, joy can arise with more ease both on and off the mat.

While the yoga practice may at times feel uncomfortable in the body or mind, it teaches us to stay present with our breath and it brings awareness to the body in a way that other forms of physical exercise don’t. Ultimately, the yoga practice helps us find calm and be more comfortable in our daily life. Practicing yoga lowers stress hormones and releases endorphins which contribute to heightened mood and alleviation of stress and anxiety. Practicing yoga regularly helps to regulate the nervous system. In a world of constant stimulus where we are required to be “on” all the time, it is no wonder chronic stress is widespread in Western culture.

When we are stressed, the sympathetic nervous system is active, the part of the nervous system that signals danger and is responsible for activating “fight or flight” mode. It was never designed to be turned on all of the time. It was designed for short bursts to save our life. But our modern-day threats are everywhere – the deadline that our boss just gave us, the traffic and noise in cities, and the bills we have to pay. Many of us are constantly living in a highly reactive state which constantly releases stress hormones into the body. Turning down the sympathetic nervous system and activating the parasympathetic nervous system – which activates our “rest and digest” mode – is incredibly beneficial for establishing a sense of ease and presence in the mind. Almost all types of yoga, including those that are uplifting in nature, will help cultivate a more regulated nervous system, via breath awareness and physical movement which promotes energy flow throughout the body. This leads to better mental health.

Practicing yoga also has the potential to drastically improve the quality of your sleep. Practices such as yoga nidra, yin yoga, and particular pranayama practices can not only help you get to sleep but can improve your quality of sleep. Practicing yin yoga before bed will not just help you wind down, but can also help you access deeper sleep. Particular yoga poses will help invoke drowsiness before bed – getting better sleep could be as simple as doing a forward fold just before you close down your eyes for the night. Better sleep is one of the biggest contributing factors to good mental health. In addition to feeling happier, accessing deeper sleep at night will help you optimize your performance at work and optimize your energy levels throughout the day. Inner Yoga Training’s yin yoga teacher certification in Bali is the best way to learn the best yin yoga to practice to help with sleep.

If you are needing a total recharge, we recommend attending an upcoming yin yoga teacher certification to spend a decent amount of time to de-stress the sympathetic nervous system and activate the parasympathetic nervous system. If your focus is more on strength and flexibility then a 200 hour yoga teacher training in Bali would be the way to go. Either way, your body, mind, and emotions will benefit from the regular yoga practice that a yoga teacher training course offers.

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