Although yoga is usually practiced for its physical benefits, it can also be a huge help for improving the mental and emotional state of its student. Issues ranging from anger management to depression can all be addressed with the regular practice of yoga and the utilization of its mind-body techniques.
To improve your emotional state using yoga, check out these tips:
Identify Your Goal
The first and most important step is to identify the psychological goals you wish to achieve: Are you hoping to reduce the amount of depression you feel? Decrease anxiety? If you can figure out what you want to get from yoga, your journey is more likely to be successful.
One of the many reasons yoga is so emotionally beneficial is because of the release of endorphins following its practice, which act naturally as the body’s own stress and pain relievers.
Undisturbed calmness of mind is attained by cultivating friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and indifference toward the wicked.
Author of the Yoga Sutras
When a workout reaches a certain point of intensity (usually at the point when the practitioner is not longer able to carry a conversation), endorphins are released in the brain. This is why you feel so serene and rejuvenated after a workout!
The practice of meditation can be an enormous help in managing any kind of emotional distress. It teaches students to manage stress more efficiently and to make a state-of-calm more second nature.
Use the time during class to calm your mind and learn to live “in the moment.” The breathing techniques of yoga paired with meditation direct the focus forwards breath instead of stress. Additionally, one of the founding principles in yoga class is to “leave your problems at the door.” This mindset can be extremely beneficial, teaching students how to find a place of tranquility in even the most high pressure situations.
The physical intensity of yoga provides great release for those with anger management issues. If you’re one of these people, look for a more intense, more difficult form of yoga, such as ashtanga. By channeling great amounts of strength and energy into the intensity of your practice, you will have less in reserve for future emotional outbursts.
Experiment with different forms of yoga to find what best helps you channel your anger; feel active energy surging through your body throughout every class.
Yoga can be a wonderful and uplifting tool for those suffering from depression. While nothing is a substitute for a proper psychiatrist, it is a great supplement to other treatments and doesn’t involve the use of any medication.
Many asanas and methods of yoga are designed to uplift the body and soul, increasing the amounts of serotonin in the brain and releasing those stress reducing endorphins. There are even some yoga courses specifically created to help in the treatment of depression. These classes incorporate all the most rejuvenating poses to increase blood flow to the brain and stimulate positive chemical production. Look for different methods and find one that makes you happy and feel good afterward!
Depression can "somatize", or become expressed in the body. For some, this can mean skin breakouts and blemishes, for others blisters, and sometimes even inexplicable aches and pains!
The encouraging and safe atmosphere of most yoga classes can help you overcome anxiety. While again, nothing is a substitute for a psychiatrist, it can still be a wonderful way to supplement your anxiety treatment.
By confronting fears in the form of challenging asanas you learn what it is to overcome, but in a secure and supportive environment. Additionally, the practice of pranayama breathing and meditation can help you calm your mind and still your breath when you find yourself in the midst of a panic attack or overwhelming amounts of stress and anxiety. You can always talk to your instructor about any fears or anxieties you have, as they may be able to recommend ways to tailor your practice specifically toward overcoming those fears while making you feel safe and comfortable at the same time.
Attention Deficit Disorder
Those who struggle with ADD and ADHD can find enormous amounts of relief by supplementing their treatment with regular yoga practice. The calming principles of yoga teach a focus on living “in the moment,” without distraction from the outside world.
Specific breathing techniques and regular meditation, combined with an eye toward set physical practices, trains students to channel mental focus into a state of physical control. The combination of body and mind coordination allows the student to naturally associate physical focus with mental focus. This can, in time, improve overall clarity of mind and increase the ability to hone-in on what is important at any given moment.
No matter what you may be struggling with emotionally, yoga can always provide a safe, supportive environment. Its combination of physical wellbeing and mental focus mediate a renewed sense of calmness, determination, and control. It’s up to you to channel that energy positively!