Yoga's Benefits for Mental Health and Stress Relief

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04 Sep 2023

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So what is it about yoga that’s so good for us? In this blog, we’ll explore how yoga can improve your physical well-being, as well as yoga benefits for mental health.

1. Better mood

Though all physical activity can help to improve your state of mind, yoga takes things a step further. Exercise generally lowers your stress hormones, increases your endorphins, and brings more oxygen-rich blood to your brain, which are all things that can give your mood a boost, but yoga also elevates your levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), another brain chemical that is associated with improved mood, as well as reduced anxiety.

Additionally, the meditative element of yoga can help regulate emotions by reducing limbic system activity. This in turn reduces emotional reactivity, leaving us better prepared to handle stressful situations without being overcome by feelings and emotions.

2. Nimble mind

From the development of new connections between brain cells to improved cognition, practising yoga provides a true mind-body workout.

In fact, memory, attention, awareness, thought, and language can all be improved through yoga, with studies finding that regular practitioners have a better developed cerebral cortex and hippocampus, the areas of the brain responsible for information processing and learning and memory, respectively. Normally, these areas get smaller as we age, but the rate of shrinkage was found to be slower amongst older people who regularly perform yoga, compared with those who didn’t.

3. Improved mental health

As a complementary therapy, yoga was found to be one of the most effective relaxation interventions for reducing depression and anxiety among older adults, along with listening to music. However, the enduring benefit of yoga was the longest lasting amongst all relaxation interventions evaluated, with the impact continuing up to 24 weeks after the intervention was first made.

Yoga and meditative breathing practises (‘coherent breathing’) were also found to be effective interventions in the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD). Both of these practices contribute to a decrease in the Beck Depression Inventory-II score for almost all participants who regularly engaged in them over a 12 week period. In fact, many participants moved out of the score range that corresponds with MDD, indicating ‘remission’.

4. Improved physical health

As alluded to above, yoga practitioners enjoy a lot of the perks of regular exercise. However, the practice also affords more specific health benefits, including increased flexibility, reduced inflammation across a variety of chronic health conditions, and improved strength and balance. The breathing techniques used in yoga, known as Panayama, also promote better functioning of the cardiovascular system.

More engaged staff

These physical and mental health benefits also yield dividends in the workplace, with staff better prepared to handle stressful situations and maintain their focus throughout the work day. In fact, investing in the health of your team is one of the best strategies to retain employees.

That’s why we facilitate Corporate Yoga sessions as part of our Corporate Fitness program. These sessions improve the health and well-being of your staff, while also contributing to job satisfaction, which in turn helps to reduce employee turnover.

Contact us for a quick quote today!

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