Yoga and Mental Health

Yoga! You see it everywhere…online, health clubs, community centers, even some churches. I am no expert and I am definitely not going to get into the original, ancient meaning and purpose of yoga. In the west we see yoga often as a physical practice. Before sitting down to write this I looked up the research on yoga and the benefits of yoga practice for mental health.

Looks like studies show that yoga calms the nervous system and promotes good chemistry like GABA and endorphins.

A little about my experience:
About 6 years ago I discovered a popular Yoga YouTuber. The first day that I followed her “Beginner” series I suddenly wept during downward dog. I was caught off guard, but knew that this was stuck energy/emotion moving through my system. When I saw my therapist, who happens to be a yoga enthusiast, he told me that it is something that is not uncommon.

I ended up stopping within weeks though, and over the years would attempt to resume. Due to physical ailments even beginner practice was too much for my body not to mention some poses hurt my back. That wasn’t good. Thankfully, I recently found a YouTube yoga instructor doing light chair yoga. I have been consistent for a month with no injuries. I do feel stuck energy moving through and just allow it to happen. In just a few short weeks my strength and range of motion has improved significantly. I feel more balanced emotionally, energetically, and physically.

As for mental health, I find myself present and peaceful, more able to center myself if I’ve experienced an external upheaval (like the other day someone was looking at their cell phone while driving their SUV 60 miles an hour in a 35 MPH zone and on the wrong side of the double yellow lines straight at me). I digress.

Bottom line, I definitely am experiencing benefits that I didn’t expect! If you have the resources to go to a reputable yoga studio that might be a great start. Otherwise, perhaps find someone online at a level that is right for you. Perhaps, also, be prepared for emotions to surface and have a support for those times.

Tell us your experience with your yoga practice!

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