What are the mental health benefits of yoga?

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Yoga extends beyond physical and mental benefits and has a lot to offer us – so it’s time to break down barriers and invite everyone to the mat

In general, if something has existed for a long time without losing its spark, you can safely say that it is something special – and yoga has something very special. People have been practicing yoga for thousands of years and yet each day people discover for the first time or in new and invigorating ways its uplifting power.

It’s hard to have a conversation about wellness without bringing up yoga, and for good reason – studies consistently show that yoga can aid depression, anxiety, stress, mobility, and our relationship with ourselves.

In addition to its popularity, a survey by the Yoga Alliance and Yoga Journal found that while the number of people practicing yoga continues to increase, there are several points that participants highlighted when looking at the reasons why they did not try yoga . These reasons were that yoga can feel exclusive, and there is a notion that it was “designed for young women” and those who are flexible, athletic, or spiritual.

Social media and a sense of competition may enforce these judgments, but we’re here to break down misunderstandings and barriers – keep the door open for anyone interested in stepping on the mat and trying it out – and find out why so is the ancient practice is so relevant to our well-being today.

Forget the ʼgram

Instagram has more than 95.9 million posts tagged with #yoga, with many of the snapshots showing people in intricate, athletic poses in front of breathtaking backdrops. While these accomplishments are undoubtedly impressive, the practice of yoga is a personal thing, and the reality for the vast majority of people who enjoy it is very different.


So, first things first, let go of any sense of competition or expectations about how you should look. This is a point that resonates with life coach Andy Gill, who is also a qualified yoga teacher, and underscores that a large part of the practice depends on how you feel inside.

“Yoga is more than stretching or becoming flexible, it is a way to connect with your body and be in your body – to embody you,” he explains. “Many of us are deeply disconnected from our bodies, cut off from a resource that can keep us grounded, centered and connected. Developing a deeper connection and confidence in the body’s resource is a foundation for good mental health. Through yoga we can develop this body connection and learn to have a better relationship with our body and thus with ourselves, others and the world. “

It is precisely this feeling of connectedness that Jasraj Singh Hothi found when he started practicing yoga in 2015 after giving up his company job. “For me, it’s a more active, embodied form of meditation,” he explains. “I was a member of a yoga studio here in southwest London and made some like-minded friends there. other people with an interest in holistic health, many of whom have had their own mental health trips. “

That yoga is mostly practiced by young women, as many believed the Yoga Alliance and Yoga Journal polls believed, is something Jasraj noticed, but that doesn’t stop him.

“As a man, I have no problem having my love for yoga,” he says. “I have seen how much it helps me, and I am increasingly enjoying my sensitive nature and the value of taking care of my holistic health.”

Mindful moments

“Yoga is a mindfulness practice that promotes relaxation by stimulating your parasympathetic nervous system – calming things down and putting your body in ‘rest and recovery’,” says Andy.

In this state of mind, feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression are relieved as we slow down and regain control. “Yoga can also reduce anger and reactivity, improve sleep, positively influence mood, and has been shown to be effective in treating PTSD,” he adds.

It is often said that our most important relationship is the one we have with ourselves, but yoga can also support our relationship with others. Many studies have highlighted the link between synchronized movement and a sense of connectedness – the investigation of the evolutionary benefit of moving together and the bond it creates. With this in mind, activities like dancing, walking, and of course yoga can strengthen our relationships that we can all benefit from after a year of isolation.


Untapped potential

Ultimately, it is up to you what you want to take with you from yoga and how you want to practice it. You’re the world’s foremost expert on what works for you, and your intuition should guide how you want to approach each activity. This self-awareness is a well-known self-confidence booster and the philosophy at the center of the approach of Karen James – a yoga teacher at Mind Walk Yoga, where all classes are currently taught by black women.

“I got into yoga later in life, more out of curiosity than anything else,” she explains. “I started my practice in 2014 and completed my yoga teacher training in March 2019. For me, yoga means confidence, peace and empowerment. It’s about getting on the mat exactly as I am, taking the time to pay back my health account – without any pressure to perform. “

Karen notes that although initially attracted to yoga for its physical benefits, she quickly noticed subtle differences in herself, off the mat – she was no longer afraid to say “no” and began to set boundaries.

“It gave me a confidence I never knew existed, which served me well most of the time, especially in the earlier days, that I would be the only black in class.

“Basically, the yoga that I love reconnects people with their bodies. I really believe in the ethos that yoga is for everyone.

“I’ve learned to adapt the pose to my body, not the other way around. It is important to be as inclusive as possible, to leave room for maneuver and space to be honest and kind to yourself. “

Find your flow

Did you know that if you wanted to, you can curl yourself into the child’s pose for a few minutes? Or take a few breaths in the lotus? You can do a sun salutation in the morning, at noon, or in the evening. You can do it in your 20s, 40s, 60s, or 80s and invite the whole family to join in. You can keep it traditional or mix it up. Go alone or join a class. You can discover your spiritual side or tune into your body. And best of all, you can do all of these things and more.

Yoga is for everyone and everyone, and the wellness benefits are within reach for all of us.

Visit www.lifecoach-directory.org.uk to connect with a life coach like Andy Gill to discuss how yoga and meditation can help you

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