Yoga is transformational. It has its origins in the history of ancient India, but its methods and purposes are now universal. Yoga has become an important part of contemporary life. Generally Yoga practice is perceived as a way of improving health and fitness of the body, but it is also a means of personal and spiritual development. Mental health is greatly enhanced by Yoga as it promotes psychological and cognitive well-being of a person. 5 ways in which Yoga can help in gaining mental stability are:
1. It Stimulates The Soul’s Inner Energy
Yoga is not just repetition of few postures that improve the flexibility of muscles. It is more about the exploration and discovery of the subtle energies of life. Yoga practice can make us more and more sensitive to the quieter sensations in our body. Paying attention to the finer sensations within the body is one of the best ways to steady the wandering mind. The practice of Yoga itself leads to self discovery. When you listen to yourself, everything comes naturally. By this process of personal experimentation and observation, we can discover certain simple and universal truths. It drives away negative thought patterns which are harmful not only for our mind, but also the body. The Deep Breathing associated with Yoga postures helps in achieving relaxation which leads to a state of self-reflection.
2. Yoga Makes Our Brain Work Better
Neuroscientists at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School tested the anecdotal claims about benefits of Yoga and Meditation in Brain scans. Their studies concluded on a positive note. Long term Yogis have a greater amount of grey matter in the sensory regions. This makes sense because while doing Yoga, one is more mindful, paying more attention to breathing, to sounds, to the present moment experience, and shutting cognition down. Senses are enhanced and attention and emotion regulation skills get better. Yogis are always grounded and their Daily Yoga sessions help in thinking with a clearer perspective.
3. Yoga Can Fight Back Stress
There is sufficient literature about the science of Yoga which gives evidence that Yoga with meditation has been associated with reduction in stress, depression, anxiety, pain and insomnia. It shows a significant increase in Quality of Life. The fight or flight centre in the brain that reacts to stressful situations gets trained through mindfulness based Yogic meditation. Working memory skills are improved and decision making is better. All such advantages can be gained by as little 8 weeks of Yoga and Meditation. You will feel calmer, better able to handle more difficult situations. A regular practice of Yoga also makes us more compassionate and open-hearted, and able to see things from others’ point of view. For example, family caregivers of dementia patients who are exposed to high levels of emotional distress have been shown to benefit greatly by Yoga and Meditation.
4. Yoga Is Like A Mental Exercise
Just like other physical exercises improve health, Yoga works like a mental exercise as it is done with breath control and encourages meditation. It promotes longevity, mindfulness and better stress management skills and purports to confer similar benefits like body exercises. That is why it has been proved to reduce risk of depression, especially in chronic stress. For example, the meditative Sun Salutations ( Surya Namaskar) can reduce fatigue and higher levels of vitality. Even school going children can benefit by the use of practicing Yoga with their teachers (as young as third Graders). It will help them in focussing better and show improvements in attention levels. In antenatal exercise programs, Yoga is increasingly become popular as it shows significant reduction in the risk of expectant mothers developing anxiety and depression.
Generally, closing the eyes and being quiet produces anxiety or increases mental agitation. In such situations, it is better to undertake the practice of Yoga – whether physical Yoga or meditation. Gradually as we see more and more clearly their roots, the fears and imaginings will diminish. Practicing a brief form of Yogic meditation, which is easy to learn, is highly useful in maintaining and improving mental peace.