Namaste: the benefits of yoga on mental health

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**Inspired by the Yoga Quota x It Gets Brighter Yoga Brunch coming up on Friday, 4 May at 10am! **

“Namaste.” This mantra exchanged between students and teachers at the end of every yoga session roughly translates to “I bow to you.” It is a symbol of gratitude and respect towards one another. But yoga is also about feeling gratitude and respect towards oneself and, in turn, finding peace in a chaotic world.

Exercise for the body and mind

The combination of physical activity and awareness, breathing with intent, and meditation make yoga the perfect activity for building a healthy body and mind. A number of studies have demonstrated the benefits of yoga practice on mental well-being, including life satisfaction, quality of relationships, self-esteem, and general happiness. Yoga can also reduce stress hormones and inflammation (when the body thinks it is sick, often due to stress or poor diet), both of which are involved in mental illness. If you are interested in learning more about the latest research on yoga, check out the references below!

Yoga offers an opportunity to be mindful.

When life is stressful, it is easy to let hours or days slip by without ever truly being present. Smartphones, email, and high pressure academic and professional environments certainly don’t help. Yoga is an example of an activity that allows us to be mindful, aware of the present moment. Practicing mindfulness regularly can help us prevent our emotions from spiraling out of control, which may be especially helpful in reducing anxiety and depression.

Yoga is fun!

Yoga can be tough, but it’s gratifying to gain control over your breathing, body movements, and focus. So don’t be afraid to try an introductory class in person or online! *

References

Yoga Journal

Tom, Joop, & Holger (2017) The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine

Moraes et al. (2018) Psychology, Health, and Medicine

Mendelson & Eaton (2018), Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

*Just remember that yoga is not about pushing your body to the point of hurting yourself. Be gentle and only stretch as much as is comfortable.