Benefits of Yoga on Mental & Physical Health

What are the Benefits of Yoga on Mental & Physical Health?

Medically reviewd by Ashley Rosa

Writter by Better Yoga Life Staff

What is Yoga?

 The word “yoga”is derived from the Sanskrit word “Yuj” meaning “to unite” or “to yoke”. The concept of yoga takes roots in Ancient India when it was first practiced by Indian spiritual leaders and their followers. According to Hinduism, Lord Shiva is the first yogi or “Adiyogi”.  It is believed by Hindus that the Adiyogi poured all his gathered knowledge about the art of yoga into the great Saptarishis (called “seven sages” in the English language). The yogic lore says that these sages carried the great profound knowledge to all parts of the globe and spread it in every continent. Therefore, the yogic system bloomed to its best and fullest in India.

Although yoga takes roots in Hinduism, it is not limited to a religion, culture or geographical area. Yoga is a practice for the soul. It is an art for mental and physical well-being. Yoga is practiced by people of all ethnicities, religions, and beliefs, as it has not adhered to any religion. It is an art of cleansing and connecting one’s mind to their inner self.

Yoga began as a spiritual practice to connect the body with soul and conscience. It is described as an “art” of binding the soul with the body and mind. Yoga is a physical practice to bring one’s mind and soul in a state of freedom with physical postures and poses. The postures practiced in yoga are called “Asana or asanas”.

What are the Benefits of Yoga.

Yoga has been in practice for thousands of years because of its countless benefits. Modern print and digital media may drive you to believe yoga is just physical and only involves physical benefits, but science has backed up the fact that yoga improves both physical and mental health. Some of the prime benefits of yoga are divided into two categories; physical and mental benefits.

What are the Physical Health Benefits of Yoga?

Yoga offers various physical benefits, which has led yoga to be the most popular meditation in all parts of the world. These may comprise the following advantages;

Improves balance and flexibility:

Flexibility is a considerable part of physical wellbeing. Reduced flexibility is a sign of aging. In 2016, Yoga Journals held a survey to evaluate the benefits of yoga. The statistics proved that almost every yogi had better and refined flexibility with greater balance control.

Reduces chronic pain:

A meta-analysis of 17 studies proved that yoga improves yoga is more beneficial than standard medical care for conditions such as arthritis, lower back pain, and fibromyalgia. The mobility given by yoga helps with chronic pain. Patients attending weekly yoga classes have shown to have much less pain and difficulty.

Relieves migraines:

Another benefit of yoga is its contribution to relieving migraines. Migraines are not completely curable and can be very overwhelming. Weekly yoga classes help ease migraines symptoms. Yoga increases gray matter volume in the brain, which reduces pain and helps boost better and more positive moods. Therefore, yoga is very beneficial for migraines.

Promotes sleep quality:

Insomnia is a widespread condition among the new generation that influences a person’s potential to fall asleep and stay asleep. Yogis are less likely to have insomnia, as yoga enables yogis to fall asleep rapidly and gives them a very deep sleep. Good sleep is very good for life functions. You need to be well-rested to be performing remarkably in daily life. Yoga helps yogis to fall asleep in a deep sleep instantly.

Good for heart health:

Yoga has many subtypes. Pranayama is a type of yoga that focuses primarily on breathing. Pranayama has been scientifically proven to improve many body functions (internal and external). The major benefit of pranayama is better heart function. As breathing exercises help provide better oxygen to the heart, the yogi is less likely to develop any cardiovascular disease.

What are the Mental Health Benefits of Yoga?

Although it is a common misconception that yoga is “just physical stretches” with only bodily benefits, the reality is quite opposite. Many people around the globe practice yoga for better mental health. Some top mental health benefits of yoga are;

Relieves Anxiety:

Physiatrists and scientists often prescribe yoga as an anxiety control practice. Scientific proof has backed up this claim by verifying that yoga decreases stress hormones in the body. This helps with anxiety and panic disorders.

Reduces stress:

According to the National Institutes of Health, scientific testimony reveals that yoga promotes and improves stress management.  As yoga enables yogis to have more control over their body and mind, stress management becomes easier. Yoga is one of the most effective practices for stress control and most yogis have confirmed this by saying that they do yoga to control stress.

Increases mental strength:

Habitual yoga practice creates mental clarity, calmness, and mindfulness. It is very effective in developing healthy coping skills and giving a person a more positive outlook towards life. Yoga can enhance your memory, processing different situation skills, and verbal proficiency. Scientists and yogi gurus believe yoga improves a person’s mental and spiritual outlook on life.

Introduces positivity:

With increased mental and physical energy, a yogi is filled with positive resonance. Yoga teaches a person through various asanas and exercises to look at aspects with an optimistic and positive eye. It teaches yogis to convert the vast tide of energy into positive and encouraging feelings and thoughts instead of negative ones. 

Fights depression:

The most common mental health disorder in the world is Mental Depression Disorder (MDD). Several science researchers have happily concluded that yoga is now one of the practical substitute treatments for MDD. Yoga-based and breathing-based therapies have proven to be beneficial in terms of considerably improving depression symptoms.

Improves quality of life:

Quality of life is defined by the World Health Organization as “an individual’s perception of their stance in life in the context of the culture and value systems in which they live and their goals, expectations, standards, and concerns”.Quality of life is, in easier words, a person’s relationship with other people, his creativity, potential, health, learning opportunity, etc. Yoga helps improve one’s lifestyle and perception of life. It improves their way of viewing and tackling new challenges in life with positivity and grace. Yoga helps improve one’s quality of life.

What are the Relationship between Yoga and Psychology?

Psychology may be defined as the study of the human mind, conscious and subconscious phenomenon, and their impact on human behavior and actions. There is a great overlap of yoga with psychology. Both yoga and psychology play a great role in healing, improving, and enhancing one’s mental, physical, and spiritual health. These ideas correlate to one another as yoga is an enactment of the study of psychology.

Psychotherapists use yogic lore and yogic exercises to help patients with several mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, panic, and obsessive disorders. Science has proven yoga to be an impactful tool to cure and improve mental health conditions. The therapeutic settings and exercises of yoga are increasingly interesting to psychotherapists, as they use it for psychological as well as physiological symptoms. Both yoga and psychology are closely related.

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