A key to a happy life is good mental health. Keeping your mind fit and being in control of your thoughts can positively manifest into a better life. One of the biggest challenges today is the lack of mental health and the increasing number of mental health issues being faced by people around the world. These include anxiety, depression, and stress. According to the WHO, close to 1 billion people around the world are living with a mental disorder1. Poor mental health manifests into poor outcomes at work, poor relationships with friends and family, and is overall detrimental to the quality of life.
Yoga Can Lead To Better Mental Health
Yoga offers an effective therapy to have a strong mind, and have sound mental health. The fact is that life will present you with circumstances that have the potential to disturb your mind. These include stress at work, issues in family, finances, or health. Regular practice of Yoga can ensure that your mind is calm when you face these stressful circumstances. It’ll ensure that you are mentally calm and prepared to solve the problem and challenges that you encounter in life.
Studies have shown that a yoga program can be beneficial in decreasing anxiety, stress, and discomfort, improving health-related quality of life, and sleep quality2.
Mental Health is Not Lack of Mental Illness
According to the WHO, Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community. Mental health is fundamental to our collective and individual ability as humans to think, emote, interact with each other, earn a living, and enjoy life. On this basis, the promotion, protection, and restoration of mental health can be regarded as a vital concern of individuals, communities, and societies throughout the world3.
Yoga – Stilling the Mind
The major psychological benefits of Yoga are to calm the mind, to attune people to the environment, to enhance concentration and mental clarity, to reduce stress and anxiety, to encourage positive thoughts and self-acceptance4. According to the ancient teachings of Yoga, the main goal of Yoga is “Citta, Vritti, Nirodaha“, which means stilling on the changing states of the mind.
The origins of Yoga can be traced to the Vedas and Upanishads. The main teachings of Yoga were compiled by the Indian sage, Patanjali (also read – Who is the founder of Yoga?), who compiled them into the Yoga Sutras (aphorisms). These are 195 sutras (aphorisms) that detail the practice of Yoga and also form the foundational text of the classical school of Yoga.
Regular practice of Yoga including Yoga asanas, which help strengthen the body, pranayama (breath control), and dhyana (meditation), can greatly help to strengthen the mind. It has a multitude of other benefits including ensuring a stress-free mind, a better quality of sleep, and an overall better quality of life.
In my practice of Yoga, I’ve observed many positive outcomes including feeling lighter, calmer, and also having better sleep quality, and reduced stress. If you also want to feel calmer, de-stress, and sleep better, begin Yoga today.
Sequence For Beginners
Here’s a simple sequence of Yoga that helps me.
- Step 1: Warm-up. Gently move your arms, neck, back, and feet in clock-wise and counter-clock wise direction to ensure a proper warm up
- Step 2: Gently massage your back
- Step 3: Sun-salutation sequence (Read more on Sun Salutation – All You Need To Know)
- Step 4: Sit in a comfortable position with your legs crossed and Practice Anulom-Vilom Pranayama (5 sets)
- Step 5: Practice the Kapalbhati pranayama or the skull shining breath (5 sets)
- Step 6: Take a deep breath in slowly, hold your breath for 4 seconds, and slowly exhale (Do this for 5 times)
- Step 7: Lie down in shavasana (Corpse pose) and keep your eyes closed. Lie down for 3 minutes
- Step 8: With your eyes closed, sit down in a crossed leg position, gently rub your palms till they are warm, place them over your eyes and gently open your eyes.
- World. (2020, August 27). World Mental Health Day: an opportunity to kick-start a massive scale-up in investment in mental health. Who.int; World Health Organization: WHO. https://www.who.int/news/item/27-08-2020-world-mental-health-day-an-opportunity-to-kick-start-a-massive-scale-up-in-investment-in-mental-health
- Telles, S., Singh, N., Yadav, A., & Balkrishna, A. (2012). Effect of yoga on different aspects of mental health. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol, 56(3), 245-54.
- World. (2018, March 30). Mental health: strengthening our response. Who.int; World Health Organization: WHO. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-strengthening-our-response#:~:text=Mental%20health%20is%20a%20state,to%20his%20or%20her%20community.
- Tiwari, G. K. (2016). Yoga and mental health: An Underexplored relationship. The International Journal of Indian Psychology, 4(1), 19-31.