How yoga can affect your mental health

Our mental health has been under serious pressure recently. The general situation with Covid has been very anxiety-provoking, and of course, many of us have been impacted directly by the pandemic with job losses, reduction in income and either catching Covid or having close ones getting ill. 

No wonder that the medias keep reporting now on the toll taken by our mental health as we slowly start to see the end of lockdown and the return to “normal”. 

I believe that yoga can play an important role in helping us feel better, calmer and more able to handle the world we live in. Yoga is much more than a stretch and provides a holistic solution to our wellbeing

I first came to yoga under the advice of my GP as I was struggling with anxiety. At the time, the waiting lists to talk to a counsellor or therapist were incredibly long and I needed help to help me feel better there and then. 

And this is when she recommended that I try and find a yoga class as it could help me feel less anxious. 

She was completely right and, as a yoga teacher myself now, I can tell you from personal experience – and from the comments of my clients – that yoga definitely has a positive impact on our mental health. 

Yoga calms the mind

Our anxiety and stress come from projecting ourselves forward into scenarios that we don’t think we can handle; or in reminiscing on past situations that we think we should have handle differently.   

Yoga puts an end to that. Through the combination of movements and breath work, it brings you fully in the present moment

Yoga also impacts directly our nervous system to stop the fear response that is the source of stress and anxiety and gently coax our body and mind into feeling more relaxed and peaceful.

Yoga promotes better sleep

When we feel stressed, sleep can be very elusive. And not sleeping makes us more reactive to stress and more likely to experience negative emotions such as anxiety. 

It can feel very disempowering. 

By releasing tension from the body and the mind, yoga helps you sleep better and thus contributes to your overall quality of life

Yoga fosters a positive mindset

You just have to switch on the tv or look at a newspaper at the moment to have plenty of reasons to feel stressed, anxious or negative. This negative mindset has a tendency to self-perpetuate and to make us notice even more of the negative side of life, sometimes to the point where the positive aspects of our lives pass us by.

Because the way we think, the way we breathe and the way we act are all linked, yoga can influence our mindset (the way we think)

Another very important element of a yoga class is the relaxation. You have probably all experienced feeling more negative and easily annoyed when you feel tired. We all have busy lives and tiredness (or its close relative overwhelm) is often present and will influence our perception of things.

Relaxation is at the core of a yoga class, which enables you to recuperate and puts you immediately in a much better position to have a positive outlook on things. 

Many of my clients have reported feeling more positive about life in general as one of the main benefits that they got out of attending yoga classes.

Yoga helps you break unhelpful patterns

As I said earlier, we are pretty much what we think. In other words, our thoughts will directly influence what we do and how we interact with the world.

We all have patterns of thinking or habits that don’t serve us. 

Taking myself as an example, my pattern for years was fear. When something wasn’t going right in my life or if I had to stretch my comfort zone, I would be frozen by fear and anxiety, secretly hoping that somebody or something could come and solve the situation for me. 

Not a very effective way of thinking when you are in your 30s with a job to hold and a family to look after!

We all have these habits that have probably served us in the past but are not being particularly helpful at the moment and might even be causing us a lot of distress.

Practising yoga can help you become aware of these habitual ways of thinking or acting. And once you have noticed something, you can choose to try and do things a little bit differently. 

A common example is realising, like I did, that you have a tendency to feel anxious and start using breathing techniques that will help you take the level of anxiety down when you are in a stressful situation. 

Overall, yoga has done wonders for my mental health and the mental health of my clients. I have been practising yoga for many years now. And I have come to rely on it to see me through emotionally difficult times in my life. 

If you are struggling with your mental health at the moment, be it through anxiety, depression, or just a sense of everything being a bit too much, I would like to invite you to my 5 days Body & Mind Reset yoga programme on the 26-30 April. 

It is completely free and you will be able to directly experience how yoga can contribute to your mental and physical wellbeing and overall quality of life. 

Click on the link below to find out more.

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