Yoga and Its Benefits for Mental Health
Yoga is an ancient practice that involves physical poses, concentration, and deep breathing. It is a combination of art and science that focuses on bringing harmony between body and mind.
The word ‘Yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘Yuj’, meaning ‘to join’, ‘to yoke’ or ‘to unite’. This word is cognate with the English “yoke”.
The beginnings of Yoga are traced to the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India over 5,000 years ago. This word was first mentioned in the oldest sacred texts, the Rig Veda. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, yoga masters began to travel to the West, attracting attention and followers. Nowadays, it has become a part of daily activities for many people.
According to the International Yoga Federation, about 300 million in the world people practice yoga. The yoga statistics in 2021 show that women are more involved in this ancient practice than men. But it is suitable for both genders and all ages.
Yoga and mental health
“Yoga is not a work-out, it is a work-in. And this is the point of spiritual practice; to make us teachable, to open up our hearts and focus our awareness so that we can know what we already know and be who we already are.”–Rolf Gates
Yoga is not only stretching and holding poses, it is a more comprehensive practice indeed, a lifestyle that encompasses several life principles like:
- Moral code (YAMA)
- Self-discipline (NIYAMA)
- Postures or poses (ASANAS)
- Mindfulness of breathing (PRANAYAMA)
- Detachment from sense (PRATYAHARA)
- Concentration (DHARANA)
- Meditation (DHYANNA)
- State of rest (SAVASANA)
- Ecstasy (SAMADHI)
In all these principles, only “Asanas” and “Savasana” are physical experiences and rest of principles are concerned with mental, emotional and spiritual experiences.
Yoga focuses more on the practitioner’s “inner” experiences than their “outer” experiences. It is a way to connect with our own thoughts, beliefs, feelings and core values.
“Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.”– The Bhagavad Gita
Benefits of yoga in mental health
Yoga goes beyond alleviating or buffering against mental illness. Benefits of yoga are:
- It builds confidence
- It helps to relieve stress
- It boosts inner strength and endurance
- It makes you more mindful
- It helps learn to breathe properly, both literally and metaphorically
- It boosts feelings of self-confidence and self-esteem
- It helps to overcome post-traumatic stress
- It reduces anxiety
- Its helps in reducing the symptoms and signs of depression
- It improves mental health
- It brings out all positive energies
- It boosts concentration, focus and memory
- It improves sleep quality
- It makes you happier and gives peace of mind
- It maintains the nervous system
Nowadays we are facing various types of mental health problems like stress, depression, anxiety etc. To overcome these mental health problems, yoga can play a vital role in our lives. However, it should be practiced according to age and physical condition. So, if you aren’t practicing yoga already, start practicing it from today to keep yourselves physically and mentally healthy.