Yoga for Mental Health and Mental Illness

The word yoga originates from the ancient Sanskrit script and its literal meaning is ‘union’. Yoga is a physical technique which aims to unify the body, mind and soul. It is a complete workout that helps strengthen the body, calm the mind and purify the soul, bringing you closer to a higher power and allowing you to gain higher consciousness.

Yoga is a complete body workout that helps promote the health of the entire body, strengthening all aspects of the being. There is no particular pose of yoga that can be considered more beneficial than the others. Everything about yoga is scientific (at least in context of the benefits, even if its action or method of working is not yet understood) and each pose benefits specific parts of the body.

If poses are practiced in specific sequences, maximum benefit can be derived from them. Though any kind of physical exercise releases hormones known as endorphins which are natural mood enhancers, yoga in particular allows for increasing mental acuity, concentration and prowess. Mental health has a deep connection with physical health. Good physical health fosters good mental health and the vice versa is also true.

Specific disciplines of yoga like Hasya yoga or laughter yoga are more beneficial for mental health than any other forms of yoga. The studies conducted on the discipline suggest that the deep breathing exercises and stretching exercises allow increased blood flow to the brain, improving mental activity and relieving both stress and anxiety. Regular practice of yoga poses can also treat any specific mental health problem like depression or anxiety related disorders.

Yoga is considered the best alternative mental illness therapy. Yoga and mental health have a lasting relationship. The principles on which the discipline was formed, took into account all aspects of well being.

Meditative techniques of yoga help trigger brain chemicals like the gamma animobutyric acid. Many of these chemicals are beneficial for the body and allow expulsion of stressful thoughts. These chemicals are also beneficial for naturally treat depression. Some of the specific benefits of yoga for treating each and every specific mental illness are:
  • By increasing the secretion of endorphins, the body naturally feels more energetic.
  • Mental acuity is improved, therefore increasing concentration and improving focus.
  • By relieving stress, yoga can help improve the quality of sleep.
  • Anxiety levels are reduced and depression can be cured.
  • Regular practice of yoga can help improve self esteem and self worth.
  • Yoga also helps improve physical health which is again associated with improved mental health.

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