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Why is yoga good for our mental health?

I believe it’s the cognitive nature of yoga that makes it such an effective tool for our mental health. Of course, the guidance of your GP is imperative but in terms of exercise, yoga is a great starting point.

Over the years I’ve really enjoyed studying and teaching within the fitness arena.  Aerobic and dance exercise, interval and strength training are all fantastic methods of keeping fit.  However, this way of exercising is often goal orientated and can alienate an audience looking for the wellbeing factor.  The introduction of various mind body concepts has helped bridge that gap and made exercising more accessible to a wider community.  Since introducing slow, therapeutic elements such as Yoga, Reiki healing and meditation my students seem more satisfied and it’s definitely the secret ingredient that I believe delivers the most positive results.

But why yoga?

As an instructor, the answer is quite simple really…..ultimately its about encouraging self worth and love. Love obliterates stress and when we learn how to love and respect ourselves, stress has no power.  Yoga is non competitive and has the function to encourage self-awareness and build self-esteem.

It’s a sad truth but there’s a rise in global mental health problems, as detailed by the Mental Health Foundation:

  • 1 in 4 British adults experience at least one diagnosable mental health problem in any one year, and 1 in 6 experiences this at any given time (The Office for National Statistics Psychiatric Morbidity report, 2001)
  • Although mental disorders are widespread, serious cases are concentrated among a relatively small proportion of people who experience more than one mental health problem (The British Journal of Psychiatry, 2005)
  • It is estimated that approximately 450 million people worldwide have a mental health problem (World Health Organisation, 2001)

Today, 80% of my work is dedicated to exercise provision in mental health areas, working with substance abuse, depression, self-harm and chronic physical ailments.  Sadly this is not limited to any particular gender or age group.  My youngest client, suffering from a post-traumatic stress disorder, is six.  With this global rise in mental health and stress related conditions, our attention to good nutrition is crucial for health and longevity.  However, combining this with therapeutic exercise, such as yoga and meditation, will ensure a strong body and a deeper sense of self worth.

My yoga mantra…

  • Yoga reconnects you to the breath, your life force
  • The breath reconnects you to your body, better posture
  • Good posture encourages the body to function efficiently
  • When the body functions efficiently we feel happy, peaceful and re-energised

Surely, this has to be the best medicine for our mental health?