Yoga is an ancient practice that has become an increasingly popular form of therapy, coping mechanism, and complementary treatment for mental health. It is a practice that comes with a variety of benefits, not only for physical and mental health, but also for spiritual health. Yoga incorporates breathing exercises and meditative states with various physical poses, designed to promote relaxation and reduce stress. The mind, body, and spirit trifecta is essential to acknowledge when promoting overall well-being, and yoga serves as a specific solution to all elements of this trifecta.
What Is Yoga?
Yoga is a form of mindfulness that emphasizes the importance of strengthening all components of the self. There are numerous types of yoga, and each practice involves different intentions as well as different short-term and long-term goals. One similarity that all types of yoga share is an emphasis on focus and mindfulness. Yoga can help individuals to learn emotional regulation techniques through elements of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present in a given moment. It involves engaging in what you are doing wholeheartedly, bringing full awareness to how you are feeling, what you are thinking, and where you are in your environment. Mindfulness teaches elements such as objectivity, acceptance, and non-judgment. Yoga prioritizes these elements and can serve as another form of practice to enhance mindful well-being.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the practice of yoga as a safe and effective form of therapy and coping for children and adolescents struggling with their mental, emotional, physical, and behavioral health, although the benefits of yoga stretch beyond school-aged youth. Yoga can teach an individual how to concentrate while fostering healthy ways to handle adversity.
What Are the Benefits of Yoga?
Yoga encompasses the well-being of our mind, body, and spirit. Because of this, yoga can provide incredible benefits associated with each element of our well-being. Although yoga was originally developed as a spiritual practice, many people today practice yoga because it reduces stress and increases exercise. There are many benefits of yoga on our physical body. Yoga has the ability to:
- improve posture
- increase flexibility
- lower blood pressure
- lower heart rate
- aid in digestion and other bowel issues
- improve sleep regulation and reduce insomnia
- release muscle tension and aches
- help manage weight through weight loss
When it comes to mental and spiritual benefits, yoga also offers many general benefits that relate to overall well-being. Research suggests that general benefits of yoga include:
- Fostering mindfulness techniques that aid in relaxation as well as reducing stress and anxiety
- Supporting good health habits as yoga increases mental and physical strength, balance, and flexibility
- Improving mental and emotional health through fostering positive and valuable emotional regulation techniques
- Serving as a mindfulness-based intervention technique to help individuals achieve lasting recovery from addiction
- Helping individuals achieve desired their desired weight, as yoga is a crucial form of exercise to help individuals lose weight
- Helping individuals manage their anxiety or depressive symptoms associated with feelings of loneliness or lack of self-worth by increasing confidence and self-esteem
Getting Started: What Yoga Practice Is Right for Me?
Yoga classes range in duration, but most last for between 45 and 90 minutes. All styles of yoga include the breath, pose, and meditation components. For the entirety of your practice, you will focus on your breath through the instruction of your teacher. You will go through a series of poses, or postures, that will boost your strength, flexibility, and balance. Lastly, the meditation aspect gives you an opportunity to quiet your mind and relax.
Yoga styles also range in intensity and physical demand, so it is important to know what kind of yoga classes are available and what they entail. Some styles of yoga include:
- Ashtanga (Power Yoga) – This style is quite physically demanding, as it requires you to move quickly from one pose to another. This style of yoga is not recommended for beginners, although anyone is welcome to a class!
- Bikram (Hot Yoga) – This style of yoga typically consists of 26 poses being performed in a circuit in a heated room. This style of yoga helps to stretch the muscles, as they are warmed up much easier in a heated room. It also encourages the purification of the body through intense sweat.
- Hatha Yoga – This style of yoga is normally a great start for beginners. It is a general term for yoga and consists of breathing and a gentle flow of postures.
- Integral Yoga – This style of yoga combines breathing exercises with meditation and chanting. Integral yoga is great for intentions of increasing self-worth and confidence.
With the numerous benefits that yoga has on our well-being trifecta, there is no surprise that it is an important practice to foster mental and physical wellbeing. If you are on the brink of trying yoga out for yourself, take that next step! You may be shocked by the results of relaxation you may feel from doing so.
Yoga is an essential practice that surfaces the importance of combining the mind, body, and spirit into one. Yoga incorporates numerous elements of mindfulness that help to foster positive mental and physical well-being. Tying together breath work, postures, and meditation, you will find yourself experiencing the present moment as fully as you possibly can. There are many benefits of yoga on the trifecta of the mind, body, and spirit as it aids in relaxation, emotional regulation, flexibility, strength, balance, and concentration. When you consider what practices can help you increase your overall well-being, yoga is definitely something that should come to mind. At SoCal Mental Health, we value holistic treatment modalities to help compliment mental health and addiction recovery treatment. We offer a variety of services that will help you find lasting success from your mental distress and promote your overall well-being. Call us today to learn more at (714) 328-4760.