Yoga and Mental Health - Movement Medicine
Hello my lovelies!
Here it is - my first ever blog post. Now this is HUGE for me. For years I've been umming and ahhing about starting to write one, even before I started teaching Yoga. But this seems to be a perfect place to begin. A space to share my knowledge, thoughts and feelings on the practice of Yoga and beyond.
On March 21st (2021 for those reading in the future) I am creating a 2 hour Yoga Masterclass to raise fund for the Campaign Against Living Miserably. CALM are a support system for people who feel suicidal and those who have been affected by suicide. They are a wonderful charity and one I am proud to support. Mental Health has a space in my yoga world because my connection to the practice comes from the way it has helped me to manage my own mental health. To find out more about CALM please head to their website here. You can book my Masterclass here. And lastly to donate to this wonderful cause you can do so here.
So how can Yoga help you with your mental health?
1. Reduce your stress and anxiety
There are many breathwork and meditation techniques and specific asana/postures that help to tap into the parasympathetic nervous system, which can move the body into its rest and digest mode. Studies have shown that it can decrease the secretion of cortisol, the primary stress hormone. You can learn techniques to take into your day to day life to manage your anxiety and stress levels as they arise throughout the day.
I recommend Nadi Shodana (alternate nostril breathing) breathing technique and you can find my Instagram reel here with some asana suggestions to help calm the nervous system <3
2. Freedom from physical aches and pains
The physical practice of Yoga when done with good alignment and mindful movement can help to create a strong, flexible and supple body. You can gain stronger body awareness and the ability to listen to what your body is telling you. The list is endless as to why a strong and comfortable body is so damn important, but in relation to mental health better fitness levels, diet and treating your body with love can help to make you feel much happier to spend every minute in the glorious body you reside in. Haven't you heard of the fountain of youth...
3. Help you get some zzzzz's
Poor sleep quality has been associated with depression, anxiety, stress, high blood pressure and even weight gain. Many of the 8 limbs of Yoga help to promote better sleep. Asanas such as Childs Pose, Forward Folds and Legs up the Wall can help tap into the sleepy zone.
As a personal suggestion I highly recommend the meditation app Insight Timer where there are thousands of sleep meditations and Yoga Nidras to help you find a peaceful rest - I use this when I am travelling and feel nervous about sleeping in places that I am not used to.
4. It creates a stronger sense of self
I would argue the most game-changing effect Yoga has for mental health is that it allows you a greater understanding of yourself. It can help you to build a non-judgmental relationship with yourself. A place where you learn to treat your body and soul with time, space and respect. You can become more confident in your sense of self and what you need - and more importantly what you deserve.
You learn to listen to yourself.
"Practice, practice and all is coming" ~ Sri K. Pattabhi Jois
There are so many reasons to get on your mat. Yoga is not just physical - meditation, pranayama (breathwork) and the Yamas and Niyamas (the do's and dont's of living a positive and wholesome life) can all help to guide you into a better mindset. The biggest struggle is overcoming the ego, stop trying to force yourself into postures your body isn't ready for or expecting your mind to be silent in meditation on your first try. Be patient, enjoy the journey and learn to love being in your body.
If you'd like to learn more about how Yoga can help you with your mental health, physical health or more about the philosophy of Yoga please don't hesitate to reach out - I can talk about this until the cows come home. I've never considered how weird that phrase is until now haha!
Lots of love