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Why Is Yoga Beneficial For Mental Health

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Increased flexibility, stronger body, and less muscle tension – these are some strong reasons to roll out your yoga mat.

But what if I told you that yoga benefits stretch far beyond the physical ones and help you get more productive and less depressed naturally and safely? What’s more, you don’t even need to spend hours in a studio or sweat it out each class – science has shown that simple yoga poses and breathing can improve mental health and well-being in as little as 2 minutes a day.

Benefits of Yoga For Mental & Emotional Health

Movement is healing – that’s not news. From making us look better to releasing happiness hormones, a fitness routine every day keeps a doctor away.

But here’s the thing…

Unlike your usual cardio or gym workout, yoga combines the healing power of movement with mindfulness, breathing techniques, and lifestyle advice. Thanks to these key elements, the thousand-year-old practice not only can tone your muscles but also rewire your brain.

And that’s not even the most exciting part!

Still not convinced? Then check out these top 5 benefits of yoga for mental health you’re likely to experience after taking up a meditation class.

Top 5 Amazing Benefits of Yoga For Mental Health

1. Increased Focus

If you can’t finish the project or keep putting off important work, you’re not alone. Procrastination is a 21st-century deadly sin. And let me tell you – social media are not making things better.

As absurd as it sounds, the best way to improve concentration is to practice it, and yoga is the perfect tool.

Studies show that only ten minutes of daily meditation and mindful breathing, which are essential parts of yoga, can increase attention span, help you complete tasks faster, and solve problems more efficiently. 

2. Better Cognitive Function

Yoga makes you smarter – and science confirms it.

Studies show that prolonged yoga practice improves the function of areas in the brain, namely those responsible for memory, planning, logical thinking, and sensory processing.

To be fair, any physical activity keeps your brain sharp as you age. But if we’re talking about immediate effects, yoga wins over.

When researchers from the University of Illinois compared the cognitive benefits of a 20-minute Hatha yoga and aerobic exercise, they found that following yoga, people learned and processed new information quicker and more efficiently.

What about aerobic bout? You’ve probably guessed it already – the cognitive performance of participants before and after showed no significant changes.

3. Improved Mood And Less Anxiety

You can’t buy happiness unless you buy a yearly pass to a yoga studio.

Jokes aside, yoga does have the power to affect your mood by modulating your brain’s GABA levels and hormone activity – some say even better than walking and exercise.

To be more specific, yoga asanas and yoga breathing Pranayama boost dopamine and serotonin – chemicals that make us feel happy and spike GABA levels (the higher your GABA level is, the better you feel).

This means that you’re likely to leave your yoga class less anxious and in a better mood.

4. Decreased Impulsivity

Bad things happen in life, but yogis seem to handle them better than those people who don’t do yoga.

Science shows that yogis display fewer negative emotions and destructive behaviors when faced with stress, which is better for both physical and mental health in the long run.

5. Increased Sense Of Self-Worth

In yoga, we say, “honor your body.” It’s no coincidence. The way we treat our physical bodies has a direct effect on our mental well-being.

Inward reflection and body awareness during a yoga class cause a shift in mindset. Specifically, a shift from self-criticism to self-love and appreciation. This is why yogis repeatedly report higher satisfaction with their bodies and increased confidence. 

All the mindfulness aside, a fitness-oriented yoga physical practice also builds self-esteem. Not only because it grants the feeling of self-accomplishment after a challenging yoga class, but also because it promotes weight loss and improves self-image.

One study also found that open and expensive poses cause a boost in testosterone and thus, a sense of empowerment.

So next time you have a big interview or a date coming up, you know what to do beforehand.

Ready To Hit The Mat?

The health benefits of yoga for mental wellness are countless. Some people show up immediately, others take time. But don’t get discouraged! By merely stepping on a yoga mat for a few minutes every day, you’re reaping the most valuable benefit of all – connecting to yourself.

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Laura Finch
Laura is a certified yoga teacher and a lifestyle coach. She believes we all have the power to heal ourselves emotionally, get through the worst of times, and find balance through movement, breath, and mindfulness. As a strong advocate for accessible yoga, Laura is sharing her knowledge and beginner-friendly yoga guides on her blog Yogakali.

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