September 6, 2023
September is all about Yoga Month. This incredible practice has been going strong for thousands of years. As yoga has become more popular all over the world, we’re sure you’ve heard by now this one fact: Yoga is good for you! Sure, we’re all aware that Yoga comes with a ton of benefits. But you might be thinking, “Okay, that’s cool, but how exactly does it boost my mental health?” Well, stick around because we’re about to dive into how Yoga can give your mental well-being a serious upgrade.
1) Increases Present Moment Awareness
In a shocking research study by Harvard Psychologists Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert in 2010, they found that our minds wander nearly 50% of the time. They argued that this takes away from our happiness, as we may be spending too much time focused on negative thoughts or ruminating on distressing emotions, often tied to the past or future but not the present.
While newer research has demonstrated that mind-wandering serves as an essential cognitive process, and in some instances, can improve creativity, job performance, and goal setting. We know that being in the moment and living in the moment presents more of a challenge than we often realize. Practicing Yoga can help with this: focusing on our body’s movements, the poses, our breath, and even the beating of one’s heart takes us from the “what’s next” mind to the present moment–slowing us down and allowing us to engage.
2) Improves Body Connection
There are many potential reasons we may be disconnected from our body awareness, trauma, chronic illness, pain, discomfort with our bodies, etc. Practicing Yoga allows us to be present with our bodies, notice our sensations, and identify our limits as we engage in body movement. The more we are able to connect with our bodies and respond to them, the better we are able to notice our nervous systems, helping us better understand our needs and values. Additionally, practicing Yoga activates our parasympathetic nervous system–helping us regulate stress and reduce anger, depression, and anxiety.
3) Boosts Beneficial Brain Chemicals and Gray Matter
Practicing Yoga boosts our natural brain chemical gamma-aminobutyric acid, otherwise known as GABA. This neurotransmitter is a natural inhibitory neurotransmitter that decreases anxiety, increases a sense of calm, and improves mood overall. In-fact studies have found that GABA levels are boosted by 27% after taking a Yoga class. Yoga doesn’t stop at endorphins – it’s a brain-boosting party for other chemicals like Serotonin and Dopamine too, it also lends a hand in building up healthier gray matter in your brain. Gray matter is a major part of the central nervous system and is involved in decision-making, memory, self-control, memory, and muscle control.
4) Decreases Inflammation
Inflammation is a major underlying culprit of many diseases and health challenges. Practicing Yoga can help reduce inflammation as was demonstrated in the work of Dr. Pullen at Morehouse School of Medicine. She found that Yoga improved levels of biomarkers C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6), both of which are known to show an increased risk of the development of future disease and illness. Inflammation in the body can also contribute to depression and fatigue. When inflammation goes down, you can say hello to better mood and more energy. It’s like a double win for feeling good!.
5) Enhances Emotional Regulation
An additional benefit of practicing yoga is its positive impact on emotional regulation. Yoga encourages the cultivation of mindfulness and self-awareness, which are crucial skills for managing and understanding emotions. Through the practice of deep breathing, meditation, and mindful movement, individuals can learn to observe their emotions without judgment and respond to them in a more balanced way.
Embrace the Transformative Power of Yoga
Incorporating yoga into your life can lead to transformative changes in your mental health and overall well-being. Yoga’s ability to cultivate mindfulness and self-compassion offers a powerful path toward holistic healing.
As you embark on your journey to better mental health through yoga, consider joining the Women Rise movement. We are dedicated to empowering and uplifting women through the practice of yoga, fostering a community of support and growth. Whether you’re a seasoned yogi or just starting, Women Rise provides a space to celebrate the unique strength of women and their collective journey toward well-being. To register for one of our upcoming yoga classes, click here.
*Please Note: The information provided on or through this website or blog is for educational and informational purposes only and solely as a self-help tool for your own use. Engaging with this material does not constitute a client/therapist relationship*