Mental Health Benefits of Yoga

Yoga’s mind-body basic premise seeks relaxation through breathing and meditation combined with stretching and strengthening poses. With its emphasis on breathing practices and medita­tion—both of which help calm and center the mind— it’s hardly surprising that yoga also brings mental benefits, such as reduced anxiety and depression.

Yoga has been shown to lower stress hormones in our bodies while simultaneously increasing beneficial brain chemicals like endorphins and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). These feel-good chemicals help decrease anxiety and improve mood. Yoga can help lower our fight, flight or freeze response by activating our parasympathetic nervous system and lowering negative emotions like depression, anxiety and anger. Research also shows that yoga and meditation may improve executive functions, such as reasoning, decision making, memory, learning, reac­tion time, and accuracy on tests of mental acuity. Meditation also reduces activity in the limbic system—the part of the brain dedicated to emotions. As your emotional reac­tivity diminishes, you have a more tempered response when faced with stressful situations.

Another wonderful thing about yoga is the invitation to accept yourself and your body just as you are today. This is the mindfulness aspect of yoga — simply appreciating your body for the things that it can do right now in the present moment. In our classes we are constantly adapting to the needs of our mind and our body at that given moment and the focus is not always on becoming more flexible in our body. Learning to be flexible in the mind can help us all handle the challenges that our daily life may face.

Breathe. Move. Connect. Gratitude. That is the foundation of the practice and with a steady consistency you will soon see the benefits. Just 15 minutes a day is enough to reap the many benefits that a Yoga practice can offer, whether it is on the mat or in a chair.

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With over fourteen years experience, Stacie Wyatt is a E-500 hour Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance, Certified Brain Injury Specialist, Life Wellness Coach, Senior YogaFit Instructor, Mind/Body Personal trainer, Stress Reduction and Meditation Instructor, Pilates Instructor, and Barre Instructor. Stacie is also certified in Integrative Movement Therapy™and is also a believer in the power and application of essential oils for health and wellness and proudly shares doTERRA essential oils.

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