One of the most meaningful benefits of yoga for your emotional or mental wellbeing is the ability of yoga to relieve stress and help you achieve a steadier and clearer frame of mind. Stress is an insidious problem for humans; we live with it so much that we don’t even notice its impact until it’s too late. Stress has been hooked to a wide range of problems including weight gain, lowered immune system, low libido, anger issues, depression, relationship problems, and alcoholism, to name a few. Everyone has some level of stress to deal with and yoga is one of the best coping strategies out there.
Yoga has been shown in several studies to relieve levels of stress in a few ways:
- Teaches and promotes the use of deep breathing and concentration, things which help promote the flow of blood through your body and increased oxygen levels to the brain which promotes relaxation
- Takes the mind off your stress. By forcing you to concentrate on your poses and your breathing, all those stressful thoughts are crowded out.
- Releases feel-good hormones such as endorphins into the bloodstream which gets rid of pain and helps you feel more relaxed
- Teaches you how to connect with your inner self so that you can tell when you are starting to feel tense or upset and be able to shake it off
- Yoga is often done in a social setting (it doesn’t have to be, but the best practices are) and the socialization aspect combined with getting out of your regular routine can ease stress as well as depression and boredom
- Reduces the hormone cortisol, a stress hormone which has been linked to anxiety, weight gain, and stress. At least one study has shown that even one session of yoga can retard the release of cortisol and cut down on stress.
Although people often think of yoga as a way to help you lose weight, tone muscles and become more ‘gumby-like’, one of the original benefits of yoga for the first students and yogi masters was to promote relaxation and connectivity with your inner self, and in doing so, decrease stress and emotional issues. Those who take part in a yoga class find themselves feeling more relaxed and clear-headed even after just one session, so you can imagine what a consistent practice can add to your life.
Photo By: Kaibara87