Mental Health Benefits of Yoga

woman with child doing yogaYoga has a beginning in Northern India by the Indus-Saravati civilization more than 5000 years ago. the modern-day Yoga is what we are familiar with and will be discussing.  The modern Yoga started in the late 1800 and early 1900s after the yoga masters started moving west.  The benefits of yoga are very well documented since its beginnings. The Harvard medical school reports that a national survey estimated that nearly 4% of adults in the united states last year practiced yoga while about 7.5% have tried it at least once in their lifetime. There are different types of yoga classes today the Anusara, Ashtanga, Bikram, Hatha, Hot Yoga, Iyengar, Restorative and Vinyasa.  Each type of yoga has something different and a specific goal for its students. My favorite type of yoga is Vinyasa yoga. I was introduced to yoga fairly recently and I must say that it has made a lot of difference in both my mental and physical health.  Some mental health benefits of yoga include Self-awareness, stress reduction, decreased muscle tension, strain, and inflammation, increased concentration, calms and centers the nervous system (Psychology today,2013).

Mental health benefits of yoga

Yoga has been credited with the reduction in the symptoms of depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, inattentiveness and hyperactivity and schizophrenias (HuffPost, 2013). Yoga is known to help with the increase of the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This is a chemical in the brain that is very beneficent in the nerve activity regulation and is deficient in patients with anxiety disorder. Therefore, the increase in GABA helps with the management of Anxiety. It is also beneficial in depression because it reduces stress and improves mood. According to a study by Massachusetts General Hospital, there is a reduction in depression symptoms in candidates who attended two weekly yoga classes for the eight-week duration of the study. Secondary to its calming and relaxation effects yoga can also help with sleep problems

If you decide to pick up yoga for health reasons here are some tips to help you:

  • Always speak to your doctor before beginning any exercise regimen.
  • Make sure you start slowly and at your own pace in other to avoid injuries
  • Find a class that is fun or find free yoga videos on YouTube.
  • The benefits of yoga which includes deep breathing, stretching is very good for your overall health.
  • Yoga also promotes self-awareness which helps individuals to recognize and accept themselves, improves attention, mood, supports concentration, boosts memory, lowers risk of mental conditions, decreases the effects of trauma, decreases anger/ hostility, reduces depression, anxiety and stress.

HuffPost. (2013). Yoga’s Mental Health Benefits Analyzed in the New Review of studies. Retrieved from

Khoshaba, D., (2013). Take a Stand for Yoga Today. Retrieved from

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