Defined loosely, “Movement is Life ”. Without movement, we are “stuck”. This concept applies not only to our bodies, but to our life energy. By moving our bodies we facilitate energy flow. It’s no wonder we often notice an elevation of mood and spirit after taking a brisk walk or engaging in exercise of any kind.
The impact of yoga on mental health is diverse and expanding. Yoga is a unique mind-body practice with its emphasis on moving through asanas in a mindful and purposeful way.
Stress is a major epidemic in our society that can create a “hypervigilance” in our mind and body, and impairs our ability to come from a less reactive place during times of increased stress. Yoga functions like a self-soothing technique in that it alters the stress response system, helping to “tame” and quiet down the nervous system. In this way, the mental benefits of yoga are witnessed with the reduction of stress by way of decreased cortisol (stress hormone) levels in our body. An overarching theme that weaves its way through all yoga poses is the “letting go” of deep holding patterns in the body and finding a state of balance to support healing. Should you choose to try it, you will find an uncanny parallel between what happens on the mat and how you begin to show up for life.
I have personally been practicing some form of yoga for over 20 years. I can say from experience as a student and now teacher of yoga, it has transformed my life. Below is a link to my favorite “home based” local studio, I have many not so local favorites too and I’m always willing to share my experiences….just ask!
“There is a need to normalize everyday nature as part of a healthy lifestyle,” Dr Richardson told BBC Earth. Further, studies showed a 30% increase in happiness by those who incorporated nature into their daily life compared to those who did not. Contact with the outdoors, exposure to natural light, and breathing fresh air all contribute to feelings of well-being and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Feeling a little shy about taking the first step? Let’s meet for a hike! I call them “walk and talks”. It’s amazing how easy it is to talk when we are surrounded by natural beauty!
Mental health begins in our gut. It is not uncommon to try to achieve greater happiness through external means. We are often more aware of our external body and take great steps to improve our outward appearance. Diets, beauty regimens, gym memberships, and trips to the mall are all ways we try to make ourselves look and feel better. What is frequently neglected, though, is our interior selves and the understanding of the nourishment out bodies need and want to function in a healthy way. With the availability of “fast food” and “short cut” nutrition in our world today, it is easy to lose sight of what real food is. Addressing nutrition and lifestyle is key to improved mental health and happiness. One of my personal favorite reads that really helped me to understand the importance of nutrient rich foods is Dr. Fuhrman. A link to his website is below.
“Breath is the vehicle for change by which we can move from a state of reactivity and stress to a state of calm; and from there, we can respond to all stimuli in a healthy and peaceful way.” The power of the breath can not be overstated. Our ability to draw our attention to our breath is directly related to how well we can remain calm and in control in the midst of any emotional experience. When we slow down our breath intentionally and find the space between our inhale and our exhale, we find a place of patience which is available to us at any time. Our breath simulates our lives. Inhale, exhale….full, empty….tension, release…suffering, joy….this is life.
In our breath we find stillness. Within the stillness we find our emotions. Within those emotions, we find the answers.