Yoga has become something of a fad in the past decade, with more and more people adding it to their daily routines. Generally yoga is done either as a form of exercise or as a form of meditation. While its physical benefits are well known, it’s mental and emotional benefits are not talked about as much. Still, yoga has become an important part of many therapy programs. Here are five ways yoga assists the therapeutic process:
1-Yoga Relieves Anxiety
Many forms of mental and emotional distress can be dealt with by simply focusing on something else. Yoga is an excellent positive coping mechanism for dealing with anxiety. Deep breathing and physical movement brings a person’s awareness back into their body and into the present. This type of “grounding” can halt an anxiety attack in its tracks and relieve depression over time.
2-Yoga Promotes Physical Health
Improving physical health has a profound impact on mental and emotional stability. Thus, physical conditioning is an important part of any therapeutic process. Yoga improves the health of the entire body. It stretches the muscles and joints, improving movement and relieving pain. It strengthens core muscles, improving posture and protecting vulnerable areas such as the spine. Breathing exercises and cardio workouts associated with yoga help regulate blood pressure. Many of the postures are thought to improve digestion. Yoga also improves sleep, which is closely connected to mental health.
3-Yoga Promotes Self-Efficacy
Every person needs to feel a sense of personal accomplishment. The satisfaction of finally being able to touch your toes, of being able to balance on one leg, or the simple pleasure of being able to comfortably sit and rest is more important than we may initially understand. A consistent yoga practice can give a young adult skills and successes that translate into other parts of their lives. Successes in yoga, even minor ones, show young adults that if they can advance in one portion of their lives, they can advance anywhere. The belief in one’s own ability to succeed is called “Self-Efficacy”.
4-Yoga Teaches Self-Appraisal
In any yoga class, students will be at different levels. Yoga meets you where you are at. It is not a competition. Yoga approached as a self-healing modality teaches and allows the student to accept his or her own limitations and work to move beyond them. Every student will find a strength, and every student will find a weakness. Yoga teaches you to accept both.
5-Yoga Gives a Practice/Discipline for Life
A practice like yoga can act as an anchor. It brings our awareness back to the present. It keeps us mentally and physically supple through the years. It works as a “check-in”, showing us when we are lacking in any area of physical or mental fitness.
Jesse Chapman is a Yoga Instructor at Pure Life in Costa Rica. Pure Life offers a weekly yoga class to its students. Students are encouraged to keep up their practice throughout the week.