You may already be familiar with some of the most common health benefits of practicing yoga — the increased flexibility, the improved joint strength and so on. However, you may be less familiar with the mental benefits of yoga simply because they are initially less physically obvious. But that does not change the fact that yoga can be extremely beneficial to your mental health, especially by helping to reduce your stress levels.
Some people associate yoga with mysticism, meditation and similar fringe practices as far as the medical community is concerned. While it is certainly true that you can find yoga studios that adhere to this type of mindset, you can also find plenty that are much more modernized, focusing primarily on the physical and medical benefits of yoga. This type of yoga can still be extremely beneficial for stressed-out individuals.
A major focus of any yoga session is on relaxing both the body and the mind, allowing yourself to slip into a state of relaxed, quiet concentration as you perform the session’s moves and poses. Although this focus helps you become much better at yoga, especially over time, it also helps distract you from the worries and frustrations of the day, putting them into their proper perspective and preventing them from nagging at you.
One of yoga’s priorities, no matter what the specific style or series of poses, is proper breathing. A yoga instructor will assist you in learning to breathe deeply and evenly, helping you more easily achieve the relaxed and quiet state that best banishes your stress.
In addition, the simple of act of exercising — whether by doing yoga or any other activity — can be good for your stress levels. Exercise causes the release of endorphins, chemicals that function as natural painkillers. One of the effects of these endorphins on your system is to stimulate a feeling of positivity or relaxation, helping to reduce stress. Endorphins are responsible for the “runner’s high,” but a challenging yoga session can have a similar effect.
Of course, stress can have many different potential causes, ranging from financial troubles to relationship issues with a spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend or another family member. Yoga might not necessarily solve all your stress-causing problems, but it could help solve the root of some of them. For example, according to the Mayo Clinic, beginning yoga can help you lose unhealthy excess weight, one common cause of stress. It can also help treat insomnia, fatigue and other sleep-related disorders, another common factor that is responsible for many cases of stress.
You might think that yoga is only a pastime for the physically fit and athletically skillful. In fact, you might begin to stress out about your ability — or perceived lack thereof — to do yoga at all, which is certainly the opposite of your goal. The fact is, however, that anyone — from a small child to a senior citizen — can do some form of yoga, no matter what their fitness level. Before joining a yoga class, talk to the instructor about your concerns; he or she will be able to help ensure that you feel comfortable with the class you are about to begin.