How Yoga Can Help Improve Your Mental Health

How Yoga Can Help Improve Your Mental Health

June 21st is considered as International Yoga Day, and the benefits of this alternative practice are done by people all over the world. Most people consider yoga to be a physical health practice for better flexibility, weight loss, and even improved breathing. However, what most do not realize is that yoga is also a great alternative or holistic treatment for substance abuse and behavioral health.

Modern yoga is technically the use of physical postures to learn how to connect mind, body, and breath, which advances meditation techniques in order to assist in gaining more self-awareness and focuses the attention on their thoughts. 

Over the past ten years, yoga has gained in popularity. The number of people and programs practicing yoga has doubled in that short period of time. 

There are several programs available to treat behavioral disorders, including alternative or holistic treatments like yoga. It is becoming more common that addiction treatment programs and mental health facilities focus on the whole person and more holistic methods. This includes a vast array of alternative tools and methods, like yoga, to help achieve, maintain, and strengthen recovery.

What does "Yoga" Mean?

The word yoga derives from the Sanskrit word Yuj, which means “union.” 

Yoga is an ancient technique designed to bring both your body and mind together by virtue of breathing, exercise, and meditation. Yoga is a health practice that is a natural form of medicine or treatment. 

Yoga is most effective when used in conjunction with other traditional approaches and methods for behavioral health treatment programs.

Benefits from yoga include but are not limited to:

  • Increased physical strength
  • Increased physical stamina
  • Relief from physical or emotional pain
  • Reduced fatigue symptoms
  • Stress relief
  • Increased oxygen intake
  • Increased energy
  • Improved sleeping patterns
  • Improved self-reflection 
  • Increased self-awareness
  • Better eating habits
  • Healthier exercise results
  • Overall improved wellness and health

Yoga assists those battling in addiction recovery. The practice helps prevent relapse, reduce withdrawal symptoms, and cravings. Yoga also provides a healthy outlet to cope with potential triggers and daily life stressors as well as assist in overall improved mental health.

The Specifics Of Using Yoga For Addiction Treatment

Yoga does not require any expensive equipment or even a special location. You can practice yoga anywhere or at any time. That fact alone makes yoga a very cost-effective treatment for those battling addiction either during or after a completed addiction treatment program. 

Commonly, hatha yoga is the most trained form of yoga in America. This style of yoga focuses on breathing methods and techniques as well as form and posture to increase physical health. However, there are many different styles of yoga. 

The most common form or style of yoga practiced in the United States include but are not limited to:

  • Hatha Yoga – Hatha yoga is possibly the most basic style of yoga currently practiced and has become one of the most popular styles of yoga performed. This style of yoga class will combine breathing techniques, prayer and meditation, and the beginner’s basics of yoga postures. These types of yoga classes are usually less under a time restraint and also provide an excellent launch into the alternative or holistic gains of practicing this form of yoga technique.
  • Vinyasa Yoga – This form of yoga technique would be the next step up from the traditional hatha yoga technique. Vinyasa is an extremely popular form of yoga that includes movements that demonstrate your body’s endurance. In a typical vinyasa yoga class, you will execute the same order of poses and techniques numerous times and often in a row. 
  • Ashtanga Yoga – Ashtanga yoga is a very physically demanding style of yoga and more designed for those that consider themselves “intermediate level”. This form of yoga demands a synchronizing of your breathing and stamina during a continuous sequence of physical postures. 
  • Bikram Yoga – Bikram yoga is best suited to those individuals who like to sweat, and we mean a lot! This form of yoga is typically practiced in a sauna style room or an area that has a lot of heat and humidity. Traditionally, this style of yoga is typically trained at a temperature of no less than 105 degrees Fahrenheit and 40 percent humidity. This type of heat, while practicing Bikram, helps to promote body detoxification as well as increased flexibility.
  • Lyengar Yoga – This is the best practice of yoga for those that consider themselves “perfectionists.” This style of yoga focuses on precision and includes things like props, straps, and blocks to assist during the class. This particular style of yoga supports your body in achieving full-body relaxation whilst performing your breathing techniques and stretches. This is the best form of yoga offered to individuals who either face some sort of disability or have reduced range due to age or other ailments that restrict movement. This process allows for a gentle and slow pace, which makes it easy for anyone to practice. 
  • Kundalini Yoga – This form of yoga is a better fit for individuals who are searching to explore the more spiritual side of the practice of yoga. This style is a great fit for those who are interested in not just a physical program but also a spiritual and mindful experience. These classes typically include meditation and chants intended on provoking energy awakening through your bones by pulling the energy ascensive whilst expanding on your sensory consciousness.
  • Yin Yoga – This style of yoga class requires you to hold physical yoga poses for lengthened time periods ranging between three (3) and five (5) minutes. This style of yoga allows the connective tissues in and/around your joints, allowing for relief of ailed areas. This practice focuses on allowing the body to relax while still challenging the individual in their own physical strengths. 
  • Vini Yoga – This form of yoga is more designed as an individualized holistic approach to healing and achieving your goals whilst still going at your own pace. 
  • Anusara Yoga – This style of yoga is great for beginners because it starts with the simple focus of inspiring a more positive outlook and/or spirit. The main goal of Anusara yoga is to open up your body to allow for a deeper connection of your higher power in conjunction with the energy which surrounds you. It focuses primarily on physical form and balance. 
  • Sivananda Yoga – Sivananda yoga is best summarized by five (5) basic yoga principles: conventional exercise, healthy eating habits, proper rest (body and mind), correct breathing techniques, and beneficial prayer and/or meditation and thinking (self-thoughts). 

While yoga is definitely not considered a religion, it can be considered a spiritual healing process. Physically and mentally, it can be very spiritual for those that practice yoga techniques and classes on a regular basis.

The Specifics Of Using Yoga For Addiction Treatment

Mental health disorders and substance abuse problems are a constantly increasing problem not only here in the United States. However, these problems are also worldwide. Many new studies have shown that almost 30 million individuals endure addiction and mental illness.  

Traditional methods of addiction and mental health disorders can still be effective, but they do not address every individual in their goal of reaching long-lasting sobriety. Due to this fact, medical and behavioral health facilities have looked outside of the traditional therapies and practices. This has led the medical and scientific communities to agree that holistic and alternative practices, like yoga, are greatly positive tools. 

Yoga and meditation practices offer varying tools to relieve stress and provide self-guided physical and mental strengths to overcome feelings of pain or affliction. Yoga is now widely sought after practice in treating individuals who suffer from addiction and mental health disorders.

Recovery is Possible At Renewal Behavioral Health!

At Renewal Behavioral Health, our primary focus is to educate people that addiction and mental health is nothing to be ashamed of, and achieving lasting recovery is possible! Contact us today to learn more about our holistic and alternative addiction and mental health programs, like yoga, to learn more about our admissions process. Sobriety is right around the corner, and at Renewal Behavioral Health, recovery is possible!

References

https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/yoga-for-anxiety-and-depression