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Race Day September 22, 2018

Healthy Living Expo September 20-21, 2018

Yoga for Mental Health

, by Dr. Erika L. Putnam Chiropractic Physician Yoga 430

How can yoga help calm a busy brain and reduce mental and emotional stressors?   It doesn’t have to look like sitting in meditation for hours or chanting OM with twenty strangers.  In fact, the thought of meditation easily brings more people stress than comfort.  Here are 6 easier ways to clear your mind and quiet your emotional state.  Making time for your wellbeing and sanity are a high priority if you want your physical body to be healthy.

1. Take time to sit quietly. Give yourself permission to not respond to anyone or anything for 5 minutes. Take a mental retreat.  Removal of stimuli reminds you that you are in control of your environment and that you can choose your mental peace of mind. Once you have mastered 5 minutes you can increase the amount of time that feels right for you.

2. Breathe slowly and deeply to calm your nervous system.  By changing your breath pattern you can affect your heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tone and relaxation response.  When you mentally take note of your rate and quality of breathing throughout the day you will begin to connect your physical state with your emotional state.  If you are holding your breath, take five slow even breaths.  If you are rushing and winded, slow your pace and consciously take five slow breathes.  Once you begin to notice your breath throughout the day you will begin to see a pattern.  Let your breath inform you about your mental state and let that influence your next five minutes in a more conscious way.

3. A regular yoga practice is a commitment to you. Whether you practice on your own or at a studio a commitment to your body, mind and spirit will remind you that your mental health is important and improve your mind body relationship.  Your participation and engagement provides valuable feedback that can be used to support you in feeling good, happy, calm and well.

4. Yoga releases tension in our muscles and moves our joints through large ranges of motion.  The sheer act of movement improves circulation, creates flexibility and physiologically reduces tension.  Moving the physical body reduces emotional and physical stress. It releases hormones that improve mood and counteract hormones of stress.

5. Movement as meditation. The act of moving and breathing, especially in repetitive patterns can be very soothing for the mind.  Imagine the continuous motion of walking or riding a bike.  Getting in a physical rhythm is soothing.  Similarly, moving through a yoga practice provides the mind something to focus on and limits other thoughts from pushing their way in.  The motion and breathing of yoga provide a means of presence that quiets the mind. 

6. Stillness.  Many yoga poses are held for long periods of time.  As the body is slowed down the mind and physiology can follow.  The slow pace of some yoga classes allow relaxation and stress relief.

With yoga as a physical practice the mind can follow in the practice of helpful and healthy thoughts.   The body is a wonderful tool for connecting, informing and building a relationship with our mind and thereby reducing stress, anxiety and depression. Try one or all of these tips regularly and enjoy the benefits of yoga for the mind as well as for the body.  

Tags: yoga,weight loss challenge,physical activity,wellness,life balance,stretching,meditation