We’ve heard about the health benefits of yoga with regard to physical fitness, relaxation, and focus. Yoga can have both a meditative quality and it can also serve as a way to stay in shape. It depends on what you’re looking to gain from your practice.
In addition to the physical benefits of yoga, it has some extraordinary rewards for a person’s mental health. For example, yoga has been known to help manage anxious thoughts and low moods in people with anxiety and depression. Yoga can also help boost resilience.
What is Resilience?
Resilience is defined as a human being’s ability to recover quickly from difficulties or life challenges. People live through unimaginable trauma and come out alive. Granted they’re not unscathed because trauma does impact us. However, resilience is a quality that we all possess that helps us recover from hard times.
Yoga and Resilience
Yoga can help us bounce back from severe traumatic events in our lives, which is the epitome of resilience. It has the power to result in powerful life changes. In a recent study at The University of Cincinnati, 125 at-risk youth were followed over a 10-year period. After a decade of practicing yoga and learning about healthy lifestyle management, their mental health improved. These teens grew up into adults who were equipped with healthy coping mechanisms. This can partially be attributed to their practice of regular yoga.
What does this study show us? It’s telling about the power of yoga and resilience. The subjects of this study were young people who came from troubled backgrounds. After practicing a decade of yoga, they learned how to live more emotionally healthy lives. Through practicing yoga they demonstrated resilience, which is a testament to how powerful yoga can be for people.
Practicing yoga encourages people to focus on what they can do, rather on the things they can't do or are struggling with. They learn confidence in themselves to focus better, gain strength in their minds and bodies, and perform poses that they might not have thought their bodies could do. Yoga is a powerful means of healing.
Yoga and Mental Health
Many people have found yoga to be a great addition to other common mental health treatments such as therapy. Yoga shouldn’t be used as a substitute for therapy or counselling but as something to supplement your mental health treatment. If you’re coping with trauma, depression or anxiety it might be worth speaking to a counsellor. There are companies that offer online counselling, such as BetterHelp, that is convenient and accessible. Counselling in conjunction with yoga can be part of a solid mental health wellness plan. You can speak with your therapist about the mental health issues you’re dealing with and process them using mindfulness in your yoga practice. You’ll find that your resilience is increased and you’re able to achieve a higher level of wellness integrating therapy and yoga together.
This is a guest post from Better Help and the first in a series of how yoga can support mental health. If you're interested in posting on the blog, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!