Yoga has gotten increasingly more popular so that now a yoga studio is almost as common a sight in many towns as a Starbucks. There is an ever-increasing body of research that shows the positive effect you has on mental health by reducing stress, relieving muscle tension, sharpening attention, enhancing concentration and calming the nervous system.
The American Psychological Association has embraced yoga’s mental health benefits and made it one of their tools for improving the symptoms of depression, ADHD, sleep disorders, and even schizophrenia. Studies have shown that yoga increases the level of gamma-aminobutyric acid in the brain, which is particularly important in anxiety disorders.
Other studies on the efficacy of yoga in treating mental health issues
Yoga improves mood, behavior and mindfulness, and also has been shown to have these effects:
- In a 2015 study Anju, Anita, Raka, Deepak, and Vedamurthachar in India determined that the Sudarshan Kriya Yoga breathing techniques significantly improved the quality of life of participants who were dependent on opiods.
- In 2015 Deible, Fioravanti, Tarantino and Cohen conducted a study to determine whether yoga could help with the stressfulness, problems with coping, work and study burnout being experienced by nurses. They found that yoga reduced the nurses’’ stress, enhanced coping mechanisms, and engendered mindfulness.
- Godse, Shejwal, and Godse did a study in India in 2014 to determine whether suryanamaskar positively impacted college students under high stress. They found that suryanamaskar was quite effective and that mental quiet was enhanced. Study participants reported that they felt more at ease, peaceful, rested and refreshed.
- A 2015 study by Ramos-Jimenez, Wall-Medrano, Rocio, Corona-Hernandez, and Hernandez-Torres determined while Hatha yoga was definitely effective for certain health problems like hypertension, and stress, it was not effective for weight lossor cardiovascular conditioning.
How yoga helps with mental health issues
There are physical, mental and spiritual benefits of the practice of yoga, all of which ad in the healing of mental health issues:
- Physical benefits of yoga that lead to mental benefits
- Reducing stress helps mediate the feeling of being overwhelmed that many people with mental health issues have. Reducing stress levels allows clarity in thinking that can allow a person to see the issues that bother them more clearly and work toward resolution.
- Yoga practice heightens awareness, and allows people to reconnect with the world around them. Too often people with mental health issues withdraw from the world around them. They get lost in their own little world where time often stops and leaves them mired in a mess of chaotic feelings.
- Regularly practicing yoga alters the nervous system’s firing patterns. It also changes the chemical makeup of the body’s fluids and blood gases. These positive changes rebalance the body chemically so that the brain functions better and can make better decisions.
- Spiritual benefits of yoga
If a person is open to them, there are also spiritual benefits to the practice of yoga that positively impact one’s mental health. When the committee that meets in everyone’s head is quieted through doing the yoga asanas, it is easier to connect with the power greater than oneself. The major benefit to this connection is that with this connection, one never has to feel alone with mental health issues.
Yoga is a powerful tool in healing mental health issues.