Yoga And Anxiety — How Yoga Can Help Improve Your Mental Well-Being

Reviewed by Rashonda Douthit, LCSW

Published 01/08/2021

Do you know that anxiety can affect your mental well-being and can interfere with important areas of your life, such as relationships, physical activity, or work? Mental Health America explains anxiety as an emotion characterized by the feelings of worry and tension. Also, when you're anxious, you will find it difficult to take your mind off the object of your worry and difficulty concentrating, sleeping properly, or eating healthily.

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Anxiety can become severe and turn into disorders, which may have serious medical implications on your mental health, affecting you and those around you. Therefore, it is important to find a way to deal with it and improve your mental well-being. To find out if you may have anxiety, visit this link: https://www.mind-diagnostics.org/anxiety-test.

One of the ways by which you can improve your mental well-being when battling with anxiety is yoga practice. This article will share how yoga can be effective in the treatment of anxiety.

What Is Yoga?

As explained by a doctor of osteopathic medicine and certified Kundalini Yoga instructor in Hollywood (California) — Natalie Nevins, yoga is specifically meant to help you build your strength, harmony, and awareness in both the "mind and body."  Yoga is an old and very effective form of exercise that can help improve your mental well-being. Focusing on your breathing (a deep and mindful one), stretching, meditation, or deep relaxation during yoga practice can reduce your mental health challenge levels.

Yoga is an exercise that can produce serotonin (a chemical in the brain that can induce happiness). Serotonin can help boost your mood naturally, which can technically help regulate stress and anxiety levels. This is done by reducing your heart rate, easing respiration, lowering your blood pressure, and moderate how your body responds to stress. Many therapists recommend yoga in an anxiety treatment program because it is included in the mindfulness-based stress reduction program— a highly potent program to achieve mental stability.

To cap it all, yoga is an important treatment strategy in mental health to secure well-being. It can help lower the levels of anxiety, improve your sleep quality, relieve your stress, decrease your depression, and generally enhance the quality of your life. You should know that yoga is often used with other existing therapies, such as psychotherapy and medication, to improve your mental well-being.

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What Are The Types Of Yoga?

As one of the oldest forms of existing exercises that help cope with mental health challenges, yoga is in different types. They are as follows:

  • Ashtanga

    This is one of the effective types of yoga that may be very vigorous — because ashtanga is highly strong and active, it will make you sweat profusely. Apparently, it's physically demanding and designed to focus on quick and sequenced poses.
  • Lyengar

    Lyengar is a type of yoga that involves props (straps, chairs, and blocks) for stability and strength. Every move taken during this form of yoga tends towards timing and precision.
  • Restorative

    Restorative is a type of yoga that can help improve your mental health. It helps you stay calm. Restorative involved moves that are slowly taken through 5-6 poses per hour for relaxation. Basically, its style entails passive stretching, which helps slow down and open your body.
  • Vinyasa

    Vinyasa is a highly effective type of yoga that can boost your strength and build the mass of lean muscles throughout your body.
  • Hatha

    Hatha focuses on introducing newbies to what the main relaxation methods and postures (asanas) involved in yoga are all about. The paced movements in Hatha are slower and gentler, which makes it very appropriate for beginners.

How Does Yoga Help Your Health?

It has already been established that yoga is undoubtedly one of the therapies that can be included in your treatment program for some health challenges. The question is, how can it really be of help. The following are ways yoga can be of great assistance to your well-being in general:

  • It Improves Your Breathing

    There have been different studies that backed the claim that yoga breathing or pranayama can help increase vital capacity (a measure of the highest amount of air that can move out of your lungs). Yoga breathing helps you control your breath by engaging in breathing techniques and exercises. It can also help improve the function of your lungs. When your breath is improved, you must know that it can build your endurance and optimize your performance in different places and on different things.
  • Helps Promote Good Eating Habits

    Becoming mindful of some basic things that have a great impact on your well-being. One of these things is mindful or intuitive eating. It refers to the ability to connect with the present moment while you're eating. By doing so, you become conscious of the smell, texture, and taste of the food, and also you put in mind the sensations, thoughts, and feelings you have while eating. This will help increase weight loss, control blood sugar, and treat unhealthy eating habits.

    What yoga does is to help promote mindfulness, which encourages good eating behaviors. The incorporation of yoga into a treatment program for an eating disorder can help reduce its symptoms, increase your activeness, and decrease your weight a little. In sum, yoga can help develop healthy eating behaviors.
  • It Helps Improve Your Heart Health

    Yoga can assist with your heart function's effectiveness and deal with some risk factors associated with heart disease. Yoga can help reduce our pulse rate and blood pressure (this helps inhibit high blood pressure, mostly heart problems).

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Your engagement in yoga practice can aid a healthy lifestyle by reducing your risk of having heart disease— this can be traced to how yoga can greatly help minimize stress.

  • It Helps Reduce Anxiety: Yoga can be a very effective way of dealing with anxious feelings. Quite a number of research have shown how yoga is capable of reducing the levels of anxiety. Yoga helps you become connected with your present moment and be at peace emotionally— this can help reduce anxiety symptoms.

  • It Can Promote The Quality Of Your Sleep: A good sleep is very important for healthy living and activeness. However, when your sleep quality is poor, it can be associated with disorders such as depression, high blood pressure, obesity, and many more. Yoga can help promote better sleep by improving your sleep duration, minimizing sleep disturbances, and reducing your need for sleeping pills.

    In addition, it has been shown through studies that yoga may increase melatonin (a hormone in charge of sleep and wakefulness regulation) secretion. In sum, yoga can be very effective in dealing with conditions that may lead to sleep problems. These conditions include chronic pain, stress, depression, and anxiety.
  • Can Decrease Stress Levels: There is quite a bit of research showing that yoga may lower cortisol levels (the primary stress hormone) secretion. This may help reduce the levels of conditions such as depression, stress, anxiety, and fatigue. Generally, yoga is an effective way of easing stress and promoting relaxation, especially when used with other methods such as meditation.

  • It Can Help Build Your Strength: Building your strength is one of the benefits yoga can offer. You may be directed by your yoga instructor to make some specific poses designed to build your muscle and increase your strength. Apart from boosting your strength, yoga can as well improve your endurance.

  • It Can Help Deal With Depression: Yoga can help reduce the symptoms of depression. It can be used alone or with traditional treatment methods. From clear observation and empirical studies, it's claimed that yoga may help reduce depression primarily because of the anti-depressant effect it has. Yoga can reduce the levels of cortisol, which may influence serotonin levels.

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  • It Can Improve Your Balance And Flexibility: Most people engage in different forms of exercise to become fit (physically and mentally). You may want to consider adding yoga to your fitness program to promote your balance and flexibility. Yoga helps to optimize your performance by involving some specific poses that promote balance and flexibility.

  • It Helps Improve Quality Of Life: Through empirical studies, yoga has been proven to be a very effective method that can help improve quality of life, enhance your mood, and reduce your fatigue.

    It may also help reduce the symptoms of chemotherapy, such as vomiting or nausea. It can help improve the levels of relaxation, invigoration, acceptance, and sleep quality.

Yoga And Anxiety—How Can Yoga Help Lower Anxiety?

Yoga for stress and anxiety is very effective because it's characterized by different important factors. Some of these contributing factors that help lower anxiety include:

  • Regulating Breathing: Yoga can be of help by teaching you how to breathe when you're anxious. This is because, during anxiety, your breath tends to be shallow and rapid. So, with the breath breathing skill acquired, you can easily cope with your situation by taking a slow and deep breath. As you must know, your breath and nervous system are closely connected. So, when you regulate your breathing, it indirectly influences your nervous system.

  • Promoting Relaxation And Reducing Tension: When you take an exercise for anxiety, what you're doing is trying to reduce your tension and worries and place your mind at rest. Therefore, as one of the effective treatment methods, yoga can actualize this purpose by lowering your tension and promoting your relaxation. Anxiety and stress most times are characterized by tension in jaws, necks, shoulders, or elsewhere. Yoga can greatly be of help by lowering this physical tension through the relaxation benefits that it offers.

  • Learning How To Deal With Your Worries: Worry is a common symptom of anxiety. Getting worried about issues at times can be exhausting when it becomes chronic. Yoga for anxiety and depression can create a way out of this situation by teaching you how to manage your thoughts. This implies that yoga can provide the opportunity to engage in a practice that can help let go of your worries.

  • Learning Awareness Of Your Body: Bodily awareness is very important for reducing stress and physical tension. Yoga will help you identify every unnecessary tension in your body and teach you how to let it go.

  • Releasing Endorphin: Endorphins are released when you engage in different forms of exercise. As a distinctive form of exercise, yoga can also release endorphin, a neurotransmitter in the brain that helps enhance mood, reduce depression symptoms, and relieve anxiety and stress.

  • Building Your Confidence: There are some poses engaged in yoga that are difficult. The ability to endure this difficult experience will enhance your perseverance and confidence. When you feel anxious, the level of your confidence will drop. So, by enduring all the pains and discomfort experienced, you are indirectly helping yourself. You are expected during practice to accept every discomfort instead of fighting it. Maintain your posture and breathe.

  • Developing A Sense Of belonging: Anxiety may have a different impact on your feelings and behaviors. When anxiety influences your thoughts, you may start to feel that you don't belong to the company of others. This can result in feelings of loneliness and isolation. However, during yoga classes, you have the opportunity to meet a new set of people and boost your sense of belonging. Yoga can also help you find strength and peace in yourself, which can help reduce your anxiety.

CONCLUSION

You can reduce the symptoms of your anxiety and become calmer, less worried, and less tense. But the first step is to determine how severe your anxiety is. You can take an anxiety test online in just a few minutes and get an immediate answer to this question.