Everyone experiences fluctuations in mental health and wellness. Feelings of worry, sadness, mental exhaustion, or nervousness happen, as day-to-day challenges or unexpected traumas consume our well being, stealing our sanctity. For some, depression or anxiety becomes problematic, making it difficult to carry on normal activities. When mental wellness suffers, incorporating regular yoga and fitness routines will help the body and mind bounce back from mental distress. For those with complex mental health concerns, or for people who have experienced trauma, yoga and fitness may provide relief for symptoms like insomnia, panic attacks, anger, and the feeling of isolation. Using yoga and fitness to improve mental health is an all-natural, mind-body nurturing method to achieve mental wellness and balance.
Natural, inexpensive relief
People depend on pharmaceuticals for symptoms of all types. Whether medically necessary or not, pharmaceutical companies coax us to turn to pills for quick fixes. Many of the drugs prescribed for mental health concerns, like Zoloft, Prozac, Ambien, or Ritalin, carry a heavy load of risks. When side effects occur, including weight gain, suicidal thoughts, or sexual dysfunction, taking prescription drugs may actually worsen conditions like anxiety or depression. Other drawbacks for relying on prescription drugs include the high cost and potential for the necessity of addiction treatment.
Using yoga and fitness to improve mental health acts as an all-natural, inexpensive relief for symptoms of mental health conditions. Either used solo or complementary to medically necessary pharmaceuticals, yoga and fitness routines provide the body with organic outlets to reduce tension and build resilience to stress. Case studies in How to Use Herbs, Nutrients, & Yoga in Mental Health Care by Brown, Gerbarg, and Muskin highlight the impact of yoga for patients suffering from anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The studies show how with disciplined yoga practice, patients experienced reduced symptoms like aggression, insomnia, distress, and exhaustion without the need for prescription drugs. Other patients discovered by adding yoga to their wellness plan, in addition to prescription drug treatment, depression and anxiety symptoms were controllable.
Regular practice of yoga or any fitness routine contributes to overall mental health by challenging and strengthening bodily systems. For example, the endocrine system, responsible for hormone production, and the central nervous system, in charge of interpreting signals of stress, benefit from yoga and fitness routines by better controlling the production and release of stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline. The spike of stress hormones results in feelings like worry or nervousness, disrupting sleep, appetite, or social interaction. Yoga is known to reduce blood pressure as it tests and soothes the cardiovascular system. Daily yoga and fitness practices strengthen the internal functioning of the body.
Heightened awareness of self and present
Yoga and fitness are like keys, with the powerful ability to unlock feelings hidden in our subconscious. Disciplined practices of yoga and fitness heighten connection to inner self, releasing complex emotions that we were either not aware of or have repressed. By practicing yoga, newfound healthy rituals break down old habits of self-blame and criticism.
Yoga and fitness lead to heightened awareness of living in the present moment. Reaching mental consciousness, appreciating what life offers us in the current moment, those regularly practicing yoga and fitness improve overall mental health by letting go of disappointment from the past. With the determination to move forward, yoga and fitness shed layers of regret, shame, anger, and sadness.
Incorporating yoga and fitness
Talk with a medical provider or psychiatrist to develop a comprehensive mental health plan to include yoga and fitness. Research yoga studios and instructors in your area. Choose instructors who have received formal training in techniques specifically designed to alleviate mental health symptoms.
Experiment with different styles of yoga, like Kundalini, known to improve stress through the practice of special breathing techniques. If you are looking for a balanced physical and mental challenge, check out Vinyasa, a form of yoga connecting breath and movement. Once you find a yoga style you enjoy and feel comfortable practicing on your own, you may opt to forgo classes and practice at home. Regular practice of yoga or fitness routines will improve mental health.