How Yoga Can Help Your Mental Health
Yoga has been established over millennia as an excellent practice for both the mind and body. In addition to being a form of exercise designed to tone, stretch, and promote mind body awareness, there is a growing trend in psychotherapy to use yoga as a treatment tool for mental health concerns.
In addition to body awareness, a regular practice of yoga relieves stress, sharpens attention and concentration, calms the core of your central nervous system, and improves your sense of belonging with others.
Specifically, yoga has been shown to significantly improve and alleviate symptoms of clinical anxiety, depression, attention deficit and hyperactivity (ADHD), sleep disorders, and schizophrenia (when implemented alongside drug therapy).
How does this work?
Mainly through regulating nerve activity, both through increasing levels of the chemical, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), our chief inhibitory neurotransmitter, and eliciting the relaxation response.
The release of GABA is particularly helpful for those experiencing chronic anxiety. The relaxation response, coined by Herbert Benson at Harvard Medical School, is shown to lead to significant improvement in mental health, where it counters the fight or flight response, caused by daily stressors or chronic stress.
One in four people will be affected by a mental health disorder worldwide, and over 450 million people suffer from some form of mental illness. The issue cannot be ignored.