The Mental Health Benefits of Yoga
If you practice yoga, then you most likely have experienced the “high” that yoga offers—that feeling like you are grounded in your body, calm, connected, clear, and centered. In this space, it might feel like a dark cloud that was following you around prior to class has suddenly disappeared. Or, that negative thought, emotion, or physical sensation eating away at you has miraculously subsided. You float away from your practice, and no unwanted experience can detract from your calm and peace. This is why yoga is often touted for its calming and relaxing effects on both mind and body. Above and beyond the calm and relaxation, you also may have experienced a deeper connection between your mind and body, as well as more intimacy with your internal experiences, e.g., thoughts, emotions and physical sensations. And, perhaps you have noticed that with this deeper connection and intimacy comes less judgment and evaluation of those internal experiences. This process translates into that state of bliss we experience after our practice, and arguably leads to less suffering in our lives (aka emotional health and well-being). Hence, yoga for mental health has received increasing attention from both yogis and scientists alike, with the benefits of yoga for mental health traversing several areas ranging from mood and anxiety disorders to stress reduction.