Yoga is readily recognized for its physical benefits, but to the lay public there is not as strong an awareness of the mental health benefits that yoga can provide. In fact, there is a strong connection between mindfulness and yoga. Yoga and mindfulness go together because the aim of both is to achieve a higher level of connection and awareness between the mind and body. Both teach the serious practitioner to tune into breath, pay attention to bodily sensations, and learn to accept reality as it is in the moment.
Many of the practices found within yoga are used to help people with mental health issues, with mindfulness being an essential part of any yoga practice, focusing on an awareness of your experiences as you are experiencing them without assigning judgment. When your mind wanders, both mindfulness and yoga help you notice the wandering and bring the attention back to the breath. When you focus on the present moment, you let go of the past and the future. This, in turn, can also help with stress, a major factor in increased anxiety and depression.
Having a regular yoga practice has been shown to be effective in allowing the release of tension and lowering cortisol levels (the stress hormone) in the body. Yoga, as a holistic mind-body practice, emphasizes deep, restful breathing while holding and transitioning into postures, or asanas. Allowing the body to relax at a cellular level, helps bring calmness and relaxation into daily life. In turn, a calm, relaxed focus in life creates a space in which to develop mental strength in order to deal with everyday challenges of life by reducing emotional reactivity. Meditative practices like yoga and mindfulness have been shown to activate the limbic system, which regulates emotions. In addition to meditative practices positively affecting the limbic system, these practices take us out of our sympathetic nervous system, commonly known as the fight, flight, freeze, or fawn response, and into our parasympathetic nervous system for rest and relaxation.
For me, yoga is a form of moving meditation that then helps me to stay in the moment, as it demands my full attention. So not only is my body becoming more flexible, but so is my mind. Some of my favorite classes at Eden Salt Studio that resonate the most with my mindfulness practice are:
Are you interested in learning more about mindfulness and how yoga and mindfulness practices can improve your mental health? We’d love to talk to you about it! Schedule a consultation with us or jump right in and start booking some yoga classes. As a New Client, you can experience 2 weeks of Unlimited Yoga Classes for just $49. Click here for more information and to start your mindfulness journey today.