It is World Mental Health day today, Tuesday 10th October 2017. Most people suffer at some point during their life with a mental health problem.
This can range from a period of work related stress and anxiety to a more complex mental health condition. Sometimes these challenges can come right out of the blue and hit us.
Yoga is an excellent way of helping to build our resilience to mental health challenges and is also a wonderful recuperative practice.
Both Steve and I have used yoga to help us at various times in our lives. We first ventured to a yoga class when Steve was living with depression and we thought we would see if it would help. Steve found that the yoga really helped him and was a step towards recovery. I also found that the yoga helped me in many ways and I hadn’t realised that I needed it! That was the start of our regular yoga practice that has lead us to becoming yoga teachers!
I have also used yoga and breathing techniques to deal with periods of work related anxiety when I was working in middle management. Yoga techniques can provide you with the space that is all so important when the mind feels so busy and full.
There is an excellent article written by Dr Mercola titled Yoga Benefits Your Brain Function and Mental Health.
The following is an extract from it and there is a link to the full article below;
Why Yoga Is so Beneficial for Your Brain
Over the years, a number of studies have honed in on the brain benefits of yoga. For example, studies have found that:
â€¢ Twenty minutes of Hatha yoga improves your brain function (speed and accuracy of mental processing) to a greater degree than 20 minutes of aerobic exercise (jogging).5,6 Potential mechanisms include enhanced self-awareness and reduced stress.
â€¢ Yoga helps improve mental health, including psychiatric disorders like depression, anxiety, attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and schizophrenia.7,8,9,10
Some of the studies suggest yoga can have a similar effect to antidepressants and psychotherapy.
â€¢ Yoga helps improve teenagers’ emotional resilience and ability to manage anger. As noted by yoga educator and writer Iona Smith:11
“During adolescence, the frontal lobes of the brain (the seat of language and reason) are still being formed, leaving teens to overly rely on their amygdala (the seat of emotions) …
The brain’s malleability during adolescence marks a crucial stage in both cognitive and emotional development.
Luckily, researchers are now able to paint a clearer picture of some of the factors that allow students to thrive throughout high school and into adulthood, such as self-awareness, managing distressing emotions, empathy, and navigating relationships smoothly.
When students hone these skills, they are not only happier and healthier emotionally, but are also better able to focus on academics.”
â€¢ By improving stress-related imbalances in your nervous system, yoga can help relieve a range of symptoms found in common mental health disorders.
Researchers also believe yoga can be helpful for conditions like epilepsy, chronic pain, depression, anxiety and PTSD by increasing brain chemicals like gamma amino-butyric acid (GABA).12
Here is a link to the full article;
Yoga and the Brain – Dr Mercola article
We always ensure in our Traditional Hatha Yoga classes that we teach our students a range of different breathing exercises and different guided relaxation so that everyone can find one to suit themselves that they can use in their day to day lives.