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How Practicing Yoga Can Benefit your Mental Health

How Practicing Yoga Can Benefit your Mental Health

June 21st is International Yoga Day and we wanted to recognize the importance of yoga for mental health. Yoga is widely known for reducing stress, improving flexibility and concentration. On top of its physical benefits, however, researchers are beginning to understand more about yoga’s therapeutic benefits for mental health concerns. 

Yoga is no longer considered a solely “holistic” approach to improving mental health and well-being—in recent years, it’s gained a scientific following, and has extensive research behind it to support its benefits.

For instance, yoga has been shown to help with the following:

  1. Reducing Anger: In one study of adolescents (2012), yoga was shown to increase one’s ability to control anger, compared to a group that participated only in physical education. Practicing yoga has also been shown to decrease verbal aggression in adults.
  2. Reducing Anxiety: Numerous studies have found that yoga may decrease anxiety symptoms, including performance anxiety. In one study (2013) with adolescent musicians, yoga decreased anxiety in group and solo performances.
  3. Improving Sleep: In one study (2012) of postmenopausal women with a diagnosis of insomnia, yoga reduced insomnia severity compared to a control group. Another study of women with restless leg syndrome showed yoga improved multiple domains of reported sleep quality.
  4.  Reducing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Symptoms: In one study (2014) focusing on adult women diagnosed with PTSD, yoga significantly reduced PTSD symptoms in women who received a 10-week yoga treatment compared to the control group. At the end of the study, 52 percent of the women who practiced yoga no longer met criteria for PTSD, compared to 21 percent in the control group.
  5. Improving Mood: Studies have shown yoga can help reduce depression, improve affect, and decrease perceived stress. For example, in a study with a prison-based population (2013), a 10-week yoga class increased positive affect and reduced reported psychological stress.

Source: Psychology Today