The ancient practice of Yoga gifts us with the opportunity to slow down, listen, feel, pay attention, release, and explore. It is a union of breath, body, mind, heart, and soul — a path to well-being.
In Western cultures, ‘Yoga’ is often equated to ‘Asana,’ which only encompasses the physical aspect of this incredible practice. Yoga is much more than the hour or two we spend on our yoga mats — it’s a way of life and a means of working with the mind, body, emotions and soul.
By expanding our understanding of the emotional and mental benefits of Yoga and go beyond just the physical, we open ourselves up to the emotional, psychological, and spiritual benefits of the practice as well.
Read on to learn 3 major emotional and mental benefits of Yoga that can improve your overall well-being:
1. Reduce Stress and Anxiety
We are living in a stress and anxiety epidemic — especially after an entire year of navigating a global pandemic! Stress is your body’s mental, physical, and emotional reaction to a change in environment, and anxiety is your body’s response to stress. Both stress and anxiety live in the sympathetic nervous system — our fight, flight, freeze response. When we spend too much of our lives in a sympathetic reactionary state, an array of health issues can arise.
Yoga is a powerful way to manage stress and anxiety. Through yoga, you can learn to deepen the breath, calm the mind, and activate the parasympathetic nervous system — our nervous system of rest and relaxation. When you begin to tap into this state during your meditation and asana practices, you are more likely to experience this relaxed, balanced, and calm state in your day to day life. Yogis learn to meet stress with care and intention, and respond to it in a way that lessens the anxiety instead of numbing or increasing it. With a regular practice of yoga in all its forms, you can receive the amazing emotional and mental benefits of yoga and reverse the negative effects of the stressful world that we live in and continuously come back to harmony.
2. Learn to Self-Regulate
Self regulation is one of the transformational emotional and mental benefits of Yoga. Self regulation is your ability to manage your behaviors, emotions, and thoughts. Here are 4 major ways to regulate yourself back into a balanced state. These are often utilized during asana practice and we encourage you to take them off your mat and into your day to day life!
- Orient: Sense orientation — familiarize yourself with the visual stimuli, sounds, smells, and tastes around you. You can practice this on the mat during your yoga practice, and then integrate it as a tool to regulate off the mat as well.
- Ground: Feeling the floor beneath you and tap into the support of the earth under your feet. This is something that we do often in our asana practice to help us feel stable, secure, and grounded. We encourage you to bring this practice of grounding into other areas of your life as well!
- Center: Connect to your internal source of centering. Your ‘center’ will likely change from day to day, but it’s a helpful tool to ask yourself ‘where is my center in this moment?’ You can integrate this regulation tool into your daily life, especially if you find yourself living too much in your head or feeling scattered.
- Breath: Bring attention and awareness to the breath, and breathe with intention. Many of us go entire days without taking a few conscious breaths. The breath is an extremely powerful tool to increase our well-being and to bring more ease into our daily lives.
3. Discover Purpose & Fulfillment
Yoga teaches us to navigate our lives with a greater sense of peace, purpose, and intention. The practice helps us stay committed and dedicated to our personal growth, and is a reminder of how powerful we are when we are living in Union. The mat is a beautiful opportunity for self reflection — to let go of that which is no longer serving us and to discover what truly brings us joy.
At its heart, yoga is not about the physical postures, but instead what they teach you — compassion, resilience, patience, and greater self-awareness. Yoga is a true exploration of ourselves, our emotions, our dreams, our passions, and our purpose.
The emotional and mental benefits of yoga are far reaching — and also physically, spiritually, and energetically. Whether you are a student or a teacher of this sacred practice, we have endless gratitude in our hearts for you! Thank you for choosing to walk this path.
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