Yoga has become increasingly popular in the Western world, but many people still wonder why exactly they should practice it. While some of the reasons are physical and can be easily quantified by the number of calories burned or inches lost, many of yoga’s benefits are more mental than physical. Yoga has been shown to improve brain function, strengthen your immune system, and help you handle stress more effectively, among other mental health benefits. These seven ways yoga transforms your mental health will help you see that it’s something that everyone can benefit from.
1) Builds Discipline
Building discipline through yoga is something that can increase your capacity to stick with healthy behaviors, like eating a good diet or going for a run. In fact, studies show that regular yoga practice can make you 40% more likely to stick with a given habit. And if you want to lose weight—or start eating better, or exercise more frequently—yoga is an easy place to start adding some healthy habits into your life.
2) Gives a Whole New Meaning to the Word Consistency
When you’re practicing yoga consistently, your mood improves dramatically. A study conducted at Duke University found that people who practiced yoga regularly experienced improvements in psychological well-being and a decrease in levels of depression and anxiety. Other studies have shown that consistent yoga practice can result in lower rates of substance abuse and addiction, as well as an improvement in overall mental health. It’s clear that when it comes to mental health, a little consistency goes a long way!
3) Helps Fight Anxiety and Depression
Yoga is no longer just a method of physical exercise. It has developed into a holistic healing practice with multiple benefits for both physical and mental health. People who suffer from anxiety or depression find yoga an effective alternative treatment that doesn’t come with negative side effects. Try it out! If you feel like you’re stuck in a rut or find it hard to cope with stress, try practicing yoga regularly and see if it can make a difference in your life.
4) Boosts Confidence
Studies have shown that yoga has a huge impact on self-esteem. In fact, a study published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that men and women who did yoga reported increases in mental health–related quality of life compared to those who did not do yoga. This may be because all that deep breathing boosts oxygen flow to your brain, which translates into an energized, focused state of mind.
5) Fosters Self-Awareness & Connection
Yogis say that mindfulness is one of yoga’s main benefits. As you focus on your breathing and your body in space, you increase self-awareness and develop a deeper connection to yourself. Feeling connected to yourself means feeling connected to others as well, which improves your relationships at home, work, and play. Practice yoga regularly and get in touch with all of you! You will be amazed by how much more compassion you feel for others.
6) Works on the Body, Mind, and Spirit
Yoga works on multiple levels. It releases endorphins, improves your posture, and restores balance to your nervous system; it also connects you with fellow yogis who share your passion. And, most importantly, yoga teaches that we’re all one in spirit. No matter how many things are going wrong in your life—you lost your job or broke up with a partner—yoga reminds you that everything is always working out for you, even if it doesn’t seem like it at first.
7) Improves Sleep Quality
An 8-week study found that practicing yoga five times a week led to less insomnia and a better quality of sleep. According to the results, published in Clinical Cardiology, yogis had an easier time falling asleep and their sleep was less fragmented than non-yogis. These benefits may be related to an increase in melatonin secretion (the hormone responsible for regulating our body clocks) due to increased body temperature during yoga practice.
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