Mental Health and Wellness: Benefits of Yoga
Yoga has been proven to help reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Learn about the different types of yoga that can benefit your overall mental health.
From childhood through adulthood, and especially during adolescence, taking care of your mental health is important during every stage of life. If left unchecked, mental health concerns can take a toll on your ability to function in daily life, negatively affecting your overall quality of life. Sometimes, mental health challenges like anxiety and depression can lead to more severe mental health conditions.
Although effective treatments are available for mental health disorders, such as talk therapy and medication, many people find it difficult to access treatment, with barriers ranging from cost to stigma. Alternative forms of therapy that do not require insurance allow people who are struggling to access care that can greatly benefit their mental health. One example is yoga. Different types of yoga, from hatha yoga to hot yoga, have been shown to improve mental wellness while promoting relaxation and reducing the symptoms of mental health conditions. Yoga is not only free from stigma, but it's also safe, easy to access, and available for everyone.
Understanding the mental health benefits of yoga
Whether you've been diagnosed with a mental health disorder or you're looking for ways to improve your overall mental wellness, yoga can help jumpstart your journey. In combination with mental health services, such as talk therapy, healthy lifestyle modifications like yoga can improve your mental health and quality of life.
Studies show that yoga practices encourage the brain to form new connections, promoting changes in brain structure and function. These changes can allow the brain to process emotions and experiences more calmly, as yoga tends to emphasize the importance of breathing through discomfort and staying focused on the now. Yoga also comes with several physical health benefits, from improving posture, relieving chronic pain, and lowering your risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.
Some other research-backed mental health benefits of yoga include:
- Improved emotional regulation. Yoga practices and breathing techniques can help you manage your emotions and improve your self-esteem. Regular yoga practice increases mental clarity and self-awareness, centering your attention on the present moment.
- Reduced anxiety. Numerous studies have shown yoga's effectiveness in decreasing anxiety symptoms, including performance anxiety. Yoga poses, known as asanas, can also help reduce the physical discomfort caused by anxiety disorders. Many asanas help lengthen, stretch, and balance the muscles, releasing built-up tension and alleviating chronic pain.
- Improved mood. Yoga and meditation practices can help reduce the symptoms of major depression and increase self-compassion and mindfulness, according to research studies. Regular yoga practice helps with stress management by promoting resilience. In addition, yoga practices get your body moving, leaving you feeling energized.
Other treatment options for mental health conditions
Although yoga practices and other healthy lifestyle changes, such as getting a better night’s sleep, can help you improve your mental health, it's important to remember that everyone is different.
Some people might need additional support to achieve good mental health—and that's completely normal. Meanwhile, some people with mental health conditions might find it challenging to find the motivation to practice yoga or attend yoga sessions, and others might have physical health conditions that limit their mobility.
Whether you're looking for additional support or alternative treatment options, some valuable resources include:
- Psychotherapy. Even if you haven't been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, psychotherapy can be a valuable support system in your journey to better mental health. Since the beginning of the pandemic, more and more therapists have started offering online mental health services, which can help reduce the barriers associated with traditional therapy sessions.
- Support groups. Support groups help combat loneliness and stigma, giving individuals with mental health conditions the opportunity to connect with other people in a safe, confidential group setting. During support groups, you can open up about your mental well-being and learn helpful coping strategies from people in similar situations. A primary component of our virtual intensive outpatient program at Charlie Health is group therapy.
- Hotlines. If you're experiencing a mental health crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 for immediate support. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, call the SAMHSA National Hotline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
Whether you're struggling to cope with stress or navigating the symptoms of a mental health disorder, reaching out for professional help can feel overwhelming. Remember that seeking therapy isn't a sign of weakness and that finding the right therapist can make all the difference in your quality of life and overall wellness.
At Charlie Health, we deliver accessible, evidence-based mental health treatment for adolescents, young adults, and their families. Our comprehensive intensive outpatient treatment program involves supported groups, individual therapy, and family therapy to provide the high-acuity care you need through every step of the healing process. Our team of mental health professionals will help you create a personalized treatment plan so you can grow into the best version of yourself. Get started today.
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