Yoga for depression and anxiety
Yoga has exploded in popularity in recent decades. Experts now consider yoga as a useful way to treat mental health conditions, with overwhelming evidence emerging in this area.
This is, first and foremost, because yoga helps you breathe properly. (Yes, there is a correct way to do it!) Many people who struggle with anxiety simply forget to breathe. When the breath is high in the chest, rapid and shallow, it sends signals to your brain to trigger the ‘fight or flight’ response, releasing adrenaline and cortisol, the stress hormone, linked to mental health conditions as well as high blood pressure and heart disease. By slowing down the breath, we calm the mind and body – and reduce the amount of cortisol.
Even companies are realising the benefit that yoga can have on their workforce, reducing stress levels and boosting mental wellbeing.
Yoga supports your lymphatic system
It’s well known that yoga increases circulation, flushing your body with fresh, oxygenated blood and rinsing your organs of toxins. As a consequence, practising yoga supports your lymphatic system, the network of ‘motorways’ which filters toxins and transports the good stuff, such as antibodies, throughout your body.
Any amount (or type) of yoga will improve your lymphatic system – even holding a shoulder stand for a couple of minutes will allow blood to drain down your legs to flush your lymph nodes. Downward dog, eagle pose, bridge, bow, and extended triangle are all great poses to help stimulate and rejuvenate parts of your lymphatic system, and get everything moving.
Yoga spreads happiness
A more indirect benefit of yoga is the way it affects those around us. By coming to your mat, focusing and grounding yourself, you’ll leave feeling positive and energised, perhaps making you a calmer father, wife, lover or friend. My children love seeing me practise – they often join in. I’m incredibly proud that they are growing up surrounded by yoga. I hope they will continue to practise throughout their lives, encouraging others – and eventually their own children!
Experience the power of meditation
Meditation is a key aspect of yoga. Connecting breath and body can create the most powerful form of moving meditation. For most people, this comes at the end of a practice, during shavasana – a pose for ultimate relaxation and a pause for deep healing. This supine posture brings about a deep, meditative state of rest, which helps in the repair of tissues and cells and releases stress. It also gives time for your practice to sink in at a deeper level.
I could go on – the list is endless. As you practise yoga more, you’ll notice how yoga enriches you personally – how you approach work, relationships or challenges. You’ll notice your body become longer and stronger and daily chores become easier. You’ll realise that painful niggle has gone. However you practise, wherever you practise, I promise you it will be a long, exciting journey of discovery.