The Importance of Yoga Practice for Psychological Health
We see the benefits of yoga practice in emotional and physical health. One that stands out in psychological health is the impact on body image. That body confidence seems innate but when we are affected by emotional trauma, that ability to feel physically healthy may be broken.
What if we studied anxiety and other forms of mental health and looked at how yoga practice can contribute to reducing stress, building resilience, and improving our physical health?
Alzheimer’s, Chronic Pain, Depression
By putting stress on our body we increase inflammation and inflammation affects immune function leading to fatigue and making us feel unsafe and vulnerable. Such inflammation is in turn linked to memory loss. The magnitude of the impact on memory is not fully understood but it’s a very real potential for negative cognitive impact.
Wisdom from Dr. Andrew Weil states, “What is absolutely universal for the human body is a reduction in stress,” – (Xoxoa: See Dr. Weil at: www.weilwellness.com/resour… ).
Establishing a yoga practice can have a positive effect on combatting neurological and psychological disorders.
The connection between mental health and physical health is also strong, says Dr. Kevin Carr. Neuro-inflammation plays a role in a large number of common medical conditions including:
• Type 2 Diabetes
• Motorcycle Accidents
• Heart Disease
• Parkinson’s Disease
• And More!
We can change our brain chemistry in the brain stem which produces the appropriate levels of neurotransmitters to prevent and heal pain.
The ability to detoxify the body of toxins and alkalize the muscles has been shown to release endorphins, a pleasant feeling that gives confidence and makes us feel safe and supported.
How to Use Yoga for Mental Health
Here is a simple 4-step plan designed to foster physical and emotional health that may help you burn through depression and anxiety and help you face stress head on, stay safe and healthy, and focus on feeling good and confident. Feel free to expand the program if you need to –
1) Accept that every day – work hard, practice yoga, give to charity, do something special, have fun – you are wonderful.
2) Encourage others to do the same. People do really matter – and we take those things for granted. Remembering that it’s hard work to pull yourself together every day will help keep you humble and connected to what it is you are doing.
3) Remember that our health comes from our relationship with the universe. Look out for your own well-being and a good connection with someone you love will elevate you and make you a more positive and memorable presence.
4) Get busy. We all have our “creative hour” and planning an event, doing a chore, a family reunion, a school play, or a wellness exam – give yourself time to be where you are, to do what you are doing and to be with people who matter. Doing nothing is better than doing nothing at all – and just sitting still can lead to stress, depression, and anxiety.
Whether it is doing yoga, setting goals to set aside time to do something positive and productive, or heading to the doctor, it’s important to do small acts that provide health benefits.
A research study in NeuroImage from Harvard revealed that prolonged catalopnea (exhaustion from shortness of breath), a common cause of early death in adults, was reduced significantly among Zen meditators, and that there was a high correlation between exercise and stress reduction. Exercise serves as an effective treatment for high blood pressure, depression, and insomnia.
Spend a little time looking at how your own yoga practice has impacted your mental health and happiness. Be thankful and know that the positive impact on your body and your psyche is also great. Let this be your mantra – “All I need is enough.”
If you have questions or experiences to share be sure to post them on my personal blog and invite me to speak about how yoga practice can contribute to enhancing and reducing stress.