How Yoga Has Affected My Mental Health

I heard plenty of what people had to say about yoga. I knew it was targeted at your mind, body, and spirit, unlike your average workout. I knew that it could be both challenging and relaxing. I knew that some people absolutely swore by it. However, it wasn’t until the second I took my first yoga class that all that knowledge actually dawned on me. It took experiencing yoga for myself to understand just how immense of an impact it could have on my life and well-being.

During my first yoga class, I felt challenged in a way that I hadn’t before. For the first time, I wasn’t just pushing my mind to produce more or to work harder, I was challenging my mind to become utterly still. Instead of asking myself to focus on multiple things at once, I requested only one single thing of it. That is, all I had to do was bring the unconscious process of breathing forward and place it at the forefront of my conscious mind.

We push our bodies to breaking points a couple of times a week at the gym, or during various activities. Afterward, we are taught to take rest days, eat protein and iron, and to sleep extra. Yet, when we put our minds through hell and back every day, all day, we never think twice of it. We never consider the rest time we should give it or the ways we could allow it to heal and recover.

I have felt the pressure that I put on myself when I have to keep running even when my muscles ache with pain. I have felt the weight of stress telling me that there were 20 things I needed to be doing and not nearly enough time. I have felt the loneliness that accompanies sadness and anxiety. We think we know our minds so well just because we have experienced the depth and despair of the places it takes us. Yet, we forget that our minds can also take us to places of utter joy and zen.

I started doing yoga and it had drastic impacts on my mental health. I found myself feeling calmer when facing stressors later that day, feeling energized when going to work and school, and essentially just feeling more positive about myself. This positive energy you can take with you into whatever your day or week throws at you.

Yoga pushes me physically and mentally to become a better version of myself. It allows me to both stay in touch with my thoughts, and know when to let things go and focus on my own well-being. It has reminded me to take care of myself, and to take the time to simply breathe and let the stress of our everyday lives roll off our shoulders. Yoga is the way I allow my mind to heal and recover after days of stress and chaos. It is my way of treating myself, my way of taking care of the health of my body and my mind. Trust me when I say, if you don’t do yoga yet, you should.

Featured Image via Women’s Health.

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