Fitness and Health

Fitness and health go hand in hand, and this section of our health library is devoted to exploring the relationship between these two very important aspects of life.

The Top 8 Mental Health Benefits of Yoga

Though practicing yoga increases strength and flexibility, yoga and mental health has an admirable link. Find out how to use yoga for depression, anxiety, and the mind here.


As practicing yoga increases strength and flexibility, yoga and mental health has an admirable link.

Practitioners of yoga and yoga-goers, also known as a yogi (male) and yogini (female), may acquire mental benefits including an improved mood and reduced stress and anxiety.

Additionally, psychologists and psychiatrists are finding yoga to be an effective sole or adjunctive treatment option for several mental disorders.

Find out the impact of yoga for the mind and mental health here!

The Benefits of Yoga for Mental Health

1. Yoga for Depression

The implementation of yoga has shown to improve personal scores of well-being and depression.

The reduction of stress responses that follow yoga practices can contribute to lower levels of depression. Additionally, controlled breathing techniques can further provide depression relief.

The American Psychological Association (APA) encourages while yoga is not a cure-all and should not displace the coordination of a licensed therapist, individuals suffering from depression may find benefit in using it as a complementary approach.

2. Yoga for Anxiety

The feelings of stress and anxiety can take a mental and physical toll on the body, in which the snowballing emotions of frustration, nervousness, and worry may even lead to high blood pressure and uncontrolled diabetes.

The calmness, relaxation, and fluidity of yoga has consistently shown to reduce stress and anxiety in a number of studies, particularly by regulating stress responses.

The natural anxiety relief from yoga may also help alleviate panic attacks, or at least dissipate overwhelming emotions.

3. Yoga & Mindfulness

Mindfulness is focusing on the present moment without judgment and plays a special role of syncing with emotions and is an informal meditation practice.

The concept advocates to "focus in the now" and to be connected with oneself, and is regularly intertwined in the practice of yoga.

Mindfulness on its own gifts some significant benefits to mental health. According to a Harvard Health article, mindfulness is an important element in the treatment of a number of mental health conditions, including depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, couples' conflicts, anxiety disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

4. Yoga for Sleep and Other Mood Disorders

Researchers from the Boston University Medical Center found yoga may be superior to other forms of exercise in its positive effect on mood and anxiety.

A group of healthy individuals practiced one-hour yoga sessions, three times per week, over a 12-week long period. In addition to reporting lower feelings of anxiety and greater improvements in mood, the yoga-goers increased their GABA levels. Low levels of GABA may be linked to anxiety and mood disorders.

Studies have shown yoga can increase overall quality of life, including parameters of mood and sleep, in patients with dementia and cancer.

5. Yoga & Focus Improvements

Yoga-goers can improve brain function with each yoga pose, and certain yoga techniques have been used to stimulate the brain and nervous system.

According to a CBS News report, even doing just as little as 20 minutes of yoga may boost brain power.

More specifically, individuals demonstrated improved reaction times and accuracy on tests 20-minute yoga session, which was not shown in those who participated in a 20-minute aerobic exercise activity.

6. Yoga for Self-Esteem

The psychological effects of performing yoga postures shows to improve sense of energy and self-esteem. What's more, the positive effects of yoga practice can occur after performing yoga poses for only 2 minutes.

Displaying and improving self-esteem and self-confidence reflect in all facets of life, including on personal attitudes and beliefs and how they influence the way we think, create, and nourish the body.

7. Yoga for Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a severe, chronic brain disorder in which individuals may experience delusions, confusion, personality loss, and bizarre behavior.

The condition cannot be cured but can be controlled with lifelong treatment, generally with a combination of medication and psychological and social therapy.

Research suggests yoga as an add-on or supplementary therapy may be effective in treating schizophrenia.

8. Yoga & Effects on PTSD Symptoms

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) follows shocking and terrifying life experiences that may trigger flashbacks, nightmares, and anxiety for months and years after or potentially lifelong.

PTSD is common in veterans with combat trauma, physical and sexual assault victims, and witnesses to terrorist incidents and natural disasters. Although fairly new and unexplored, experts suggest yoga may be a beneficial supplementation to treatment programs.

But as yoga shows to be an effective treatment option in reducing brain and mental disorders, self-diagnosis and management should be avoided.

Despite reduced symptoms and an improved psychological well-being, seek out professional assistance for the safest treatment options tailored to individual needs.

Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on August 02, 2016. Updated on May 24, 2019.


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