The science of Yoga has time and again proven that it offers holistic benefits to the mind, body, and soul. This fact has also been discussed and published in various studies including Harvard Health. What is intriguing is that these benefits are not limited to just superficial levels, these benefits affect our mind to the extent of evening helping us find relief or manage symptoms of high level stress, anxiety and even depression. In other words, practicing yoga actually helps the human brain function better. Not sure why or how does yoga help our mental health? Read on below. 

Feel Mentally Awake With Regular Practice

When you workout or do weight lifting, your muscles become toned and stronger. Similarly when you are in yoga as you gradually begin to sync your mind and body with your breath, our brain cells begin to sync further with each other to the point that our brain structure itself becomes more aligned. As a result, better brain activity and heightened cognitive ability as well. Yoga focuses on strengthening the brain to the point of improving memory function as we build attention and awareness of the body and mind. In other words, it is kind of like weight training for the mind. 

Certain studies have concluded through MRI scans that regular yoga practitioners actually have a thicker cerebral cortex, the area which is responsible for processing the information and a thicker hippocampus too. The hippocampus is the area in the brain that is responsible for our learning and memory functions. Usually, these regions in our brain shrink as we age. But with regular yoga practice, these areas are expected to show less shrinkage in comparison with the non-practitioners. 

It is also indicated that with a regular practice of yoga and medication, you are able to improve decision making skills, reflex actions, and mental accuracy. 

Better Mood

It has been observed that yoga practice can significantly boost our mood by decreasing stress hormones and elevating the levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the brain. This chemical elevation results in improved mood and decreased stress or anxiety. 

With regular yoga and meditation, we can also downsize the activity in the limbic system – the part of the brain that is reserved for emotions. As we gain better control over the emotions, we are able to face challenging situations with much more ease without getting overwhelmed by them. Yoga works as a constructive therapy. 

Certain studies have also indicated that with yoga, one can get help in managing PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). Of course, with additional therapy and right medication. Through Pranayama therapy, the yogi can achieve deep and slow breathing which is linked to achieving a calmer state of mind since it helps awaken the parasympathetic nervous system..

Top Yoga Poses for Improving Mental Health

Ideally, to gain the right technique and to reap complete benefits of yoga, it is better to go under a mentor. You can study 200 hour yoga teacher training in Rishikesh, the yoga capital of the globe, for undergoing traditional study and practices and do complete mind, body, soul balance work. If you do not see it happening in the near future then you can go with a local yoga studio or a breathing yoga course online to get started. Combine the learning of a pranayama course online with the right yoga sequence and gain unimaginable mental health benefits. Get started with these easy yoga poses for improving mental health. 

Uttanasana (or standing forward bend pose)

An amazing yoga pose to release stress and anxiety, this is a pose that offers intense stretch to the muscles of the entire back along with improving flexibility and strength. Open your heart to this pose as it increases the supply of oxygen towards the brain. Feel a fresh surge of mental energy while in this pose. 

Sukhasana (or Easy Pose)

As the name suggests, feel easy in the mind and body as you come into Sukhasana (the easy pose). The pose is one of the best positions for doing meditation at a stretch since it offer comfort to the mind and body to relax and not get distracted by the external environment. An amazing pose for managing symptoms of stress, anxiety, and even depression. Sit on the floor with your legs crossed and spine straight and start doing pranayama. Feel all your stress melt away. 

Viparita Karani (or legs-up-the-wall pose)

This is a beautiful yoga asana to calm the mind, destress, and stimulate the nervous system. When you are in this pose, your blood flows towards the chest giving a feeling of being full of happiness and relaxation. The pose is also helpful in managing insomnia. 

Balasana (Or Child Pose)

Observe children – ever so happy and chilled out. You can feel like it too with this easy child pose or balasana. Let your worries and stress melt into the earth as you succumb yourself into its lap. The feeling of being held by the earth offers unparalleled peace.

Savasana (or Corpse pose)

A must-do yoga pose at the conclusion of a yoga routine, the corpse pose has its significance when it comes to boosting mental health. The pose puts you in a meditative state while relaxing the entire body. Set aside at least 20 minutes aside for the corpse pose. Lie flat on the back while keeping the body flat on the floor with your arms folded on either side and palms facing the ceiling.