If you’re somebody who suffers from anxiety or depression, then chances are you’re willing to give almost anything a try in order to help relieve some of your symptoms.
If you’ve been doing any kind of research into this topic, then chances are there’s one treatment that you’re finding repeated over and over again – exercise!
We don’t blame you if you’re feeling unenthusiastic about this as a form of therapy, after all, when you’re struggling to move from your bed, working out is the last thing you want to do.
But working out doesn’t necessarily mean engaging in an hour long, intensive HIIT exercise, and sweating until you’re red in the face. There’s a far easier and more enjoyable way to meet the physical activity quota your body needs in order to function – yoga.
That’s because yoga has been proven time and time again to be an excellent tool in improving mental health.
It helps you to stay present in the moment by focusing on the movements of your body, so that your mind doesn’t have any time to spiral into a tornado of negative thoughts. It’s also incredibly soothing and relaxing, and can help to quieten your thought processes.
If you’ve been considering taking up yoga to aid you on your mental health journey, then you’ve come to the right place. Below, we’ve compiled a list of what we believe to be some of the very best yoga poses for maintaining your mind’s health.
To find out more, simply keep reading below, as we take a closer look.
How Can Yoga Improve My Mental Health?
Now, before we jump straight in and start taking a look at some of the best poses for maintaining your mind’s health, first, let’s take a look at some of the ways that yoga can improve mental health in general.
One of the key ways in which yoga has been proven to improve mental health, is by lowering the stress hormones in your body.
It’s still a form of exercise as it engages our muscles, therefore releasing endorphins via our brain, but it’s not so exerting that it increases stress hormones by pushing us too far.
Yoga has also been shown to slow the aging process, simply because it prevents the brain from shrinking in areas that have been associated with memory.
For those who are suffering from conditions such as insomnia, yoga can help to lower stress levels within your body, and ultimately promote a better quality of sleep.
The Best Yoga Positions For Mental Health
Now that we’ve taken a closer look at some of the ways yoga can improve your mental health, we can move on to take a look at some of the most beneficial positions.
1. Cow Pose
The first pose that we’re going to get started out with is cow pose. Cow pose is one of the easiest and most beginner friendly yoga poses that you can get started with. It opens up your airways, and can help to relieve some of the stress in your body.
- To get started with cow pose, the first thing you’re going to want to do is to get down on all fours, so that you’re on the ground in a tabletop position. After you’ve done this, you can then go ahead bring your knees underneath your hips, and your wrists slightly further out than your shoulders.
- After you’ve done this, you can then comfortably spread your fingers out on the ground, and press them down onto the floor.
- Take a deep breath in, and as you do so, lift your stomach and your chest upwards. Look up, with your lower back facing upwards.
- Take a deep breath in, and lower yourself back to the generic tabletop position. Do this as many times as you need to in order to feel more relaxed.
2. Happy Baby Pose
The next pose that we’re going to be taking a look at is the happy baby pose.
This one is great for your mental health because it enhances your mood, and helps to reduce stress and fatigue.
- In order to get started out with a happy baby pose, the first thing you’re going to need to do is to lie flat on your back on the floor.
- After you’re in a comfortable position, you can then go ahead and bend your knees toward your chest, roughly at a 90 degree angle.
- Have the pads of your feet facing upwards, so that they’re pointing towards the sky.
- After you’ve done this, go ahead and take your hands, reaching downward in order to grab the outside of your feet.
- You can then go ahead and spread your knees apart.
- You’re then going to want to rock yourself gently from side to side. Inhale and exhale throughout, and keep the position for as long as you feel comfortable.
3. Extended Puppy Pose
The next yoga position that we’re going to be taking a look at that’s great for your mental health, is the extended puppy pose. This one is great because it stretches all of your muscles, releasing those all important endorphins.
As well as this, it also helps to calm your mind, making it a great option if you want to relax.
- To get started with this pose, begin by starting out in a tabletop position on the ground. After you’ve done this, you want to make sure that your shins are hip width apart.
- You’re then going to want to crawl out using your fingertips, so that you’re extending your arms as far forwards as you can. As you do so, extend your hips backward, so that they’re facing upwards towards the sky.
- Allow your chest to lower slowly, so that it’s resting gently against the surface of the floor.
- Make sure that your forearms are totally parallel, and press your palms and fingers into the mat. Roll your arms inward.
- Reach your hips upward, so that they’re facing the area behind you.
- Remain like this for approximately 10 breaths, then return to the tabletop pose, repeating as many times as you need to.
4. Bridge Pose
The next pose that we’re going to be taking a closer look at today is bridge pose. This pose is renowned for being great at relieving symptoms associated with stress and high blood pressure. It’s also great at reducing fatigue levels in the body.
- To get started with bridge pose, the first thing you’re going to need to do is to live flat on your back, with your arms lying next to your ribcage. Hold on to the outer edges of our yoga mat with your hands.
- As you take a deep breath inwards, press your shoulders and the pads of your feet firmly on to the floor beneath you.
- Engage your inner thigh muscles, and bring your buttocks and lower back up high, and lengthen your tailbone region.
- After you’ve risen off the ground, you can then go ahead and bring your shoulder blades firmly back down, so that they’re solid against the ground.
- After you’ve done this, you can let go of the sides of the yoga mat, and bring them so that they’re interlocked behind your back region.
- You can stay like this for 10 breaths, or however many you feel comfortable with.
- After you’ve done this, you can go ahead and unclasp your hands, and bring your back and buttocks slowly back down to the ground. Repeat this as many times as you like.
To sum up, yoga is a great form of self care for when you’re feeling blue. It’s not over exerting like many types of physical activity out there. It can help to improve your flexibility, and strengthen your muscles without making you work too hard.
Yoga is great for releasing lots of endorphins within your brain, which naturally make you feel happier and improve your mood.
Yoga is also known to improve the functioning of the nervous system, so it can help you to combat that fight or flight response the next time you’re feeling anxious.
All of these poses are beginner friendly, and are super easy to get started with.
We hope that you found this article informative, and we wish you the best on your yoga journey.