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When we think about yoga we often associate it with a physical practice as a form of exercise. While yoga provides a great way to improve fitness, one of it’s greatest benefits is its ability to improve our mental health. Yoga for mental health provides an excellent tool for stress reduction and builds stress resilience over time. Stress plays a major role in a number of mental and physical health issues and has become a common element of life in a fast-paced modern society.  Yoga incorporates an aspect of meditative movement or “flow” that has the ability to improve focus while calming our mental state. Mental fitness plays an important role in maintaining an overall state of well-being.

The following article covers what yoga is how it can provide an effective tool for improving mental health.

What is Yoga?

Yoga originated in India as a system of physical and spiritual practices several thousand years ago. Yoga can have a profound influence on both on mental and physical health and helps bridge the connection between mind and body. Yoga has made its way across the world and has been experienced by a diverse group of individuals who appreciate the benefits they feel when practicing yoga for mental health. 

Developing a yoga practice can be a transformative experience that can benefit those suffering from mental health issues.  Yoga comes in many forms from intense physical practice to purely mental exercises. Finding a skilled practitioner and the type of yoga best suited for your individual needs is the first step in beginning a new practice.

The connection between Mental Health and Yoga

For some achieving a state of happiness and mental wellness can be a challenge. Developing a regular yoga practice can help to achieve a state of balance and wellness that can help to improve the quality of one’s mental state. Whether your goals are to improve focus, achieve better physical health, or improve your feelings of happiness yoga offers a wide range of benefits that can help to improve your mental health and overall sense of wellbeing.

What can Yoga do for Mental Health

Yoga can provide an effective method for treating mental health when combined with other practices.

The following are 7 benefits yoga for mental health can provide:

  1. Increase your Self-ConfidenceImprove your level of concentration
  2. Improves Concentration
  3. Makes you physically Fit
  4. Avoids Stress
  5. Good Posture
  6. Peaceful Mind
  7. Increases the Quality of Sleep

Benefits of Yoga For Mental Health

1.Increase your Self-Confidence

Confidence plays a significant role in our mental health. When we are confident in our abilities to handle life challenges and happy with the way we look and feel it can impact our lives profoundly. Yoga provides a number of physical and mental benefits that allow us to feel better about ourselves which can boost self-confidence and create a positive self-image.  Practicing yoga regularly gives you a calm environment to practice self-healing and learn from your past mistakes. Working through mental blockages while practicing yoga can help to foster positive ideas and believe systems that allow you to accept yourself and feel more confident navigating your daily life.

2. Improve your level of concentration

One aspect of yoga for mental health is to improve concentration by maintaining a singular focus or to completely clear your mind for a period of time. This enhances your level of concentration on a particular thing while clearing distractions. When you have a good concentration level, you can focus on completing tasks without constant static that can flood the untrained mind. Being able to maintain prolonged focus improves one’s ability to complete tasks, which will, in turn, make it easy to accomplish goals. This ability will improve confidence levels and additionally improved concentration will allow you to perform better mentally and while achieving a calm and collected state that will make all aspects of life easier to manage.

3. Makes you physically Fit

A sound body helps create a sound mind. When your body is healthy it impacts the way you feel mentally. Improved energy levels, balanced neurochemistry, a sense of wellness as a result of a consistent yoga practice help improve mood states.  Yoga has many different kinds of asanas which helps you to stay fit. Yoga asanas have been developed over thousands of years of practice to improve the health of internal organs and to balance the nervous system. Making yoga daily habit will go along way to improving mental, physical, and spiritual wellness which can, in turn, improve your overall quality of life.

4. Help Manage Stress Levels

Yoga postures help develop stress resilience by influencing stress-related mechanisms of both the mind and body. Specific breathing techniques and flow movements help to regulate the nervous system while building mental stress resilience through flow states that calm the mind and allow for focused concentration. Regularly practicing yoga for mental health will help develop a relaxed and grounded mental state that can have broad-reaching effects including better overall mental health.

5. Good Posture

Practicing yoga daily helps you to develop better posture by helping to improve alignment, building muscle tone, and improving flexibility. Having good posture can help alleviate pain caused by poor spinal alignment. Being able to relieve back and neck pain through naturally through yoga practice can help create a feeling of relaxation and wellbeing both of which help to improve our mental state. Additionally, good posture will allow you to stand taller which can affect the way people perceive you and in turn positively impact the way you see yourself.

6. Peaceful Mind

Establishing a calm and clear mental state during yoga can be a challenge when starting out. However, through continual practice, you can begin to develop a more resilient mental space and will find it easier to drop into a flow state while practicing.  Yoga incorporates the practice of controlled breathing. Controlled inhalation and exhalation are used purposefully to calm the mind and body while working through more challenging yoga positions. This same form of breathing can be used outside of your yoga practice as a tool for calming the mind when dealing with stressful life circumstances.

7. Increases the Quality of Sleep

Getting 7-8 hours of quality sleep per night is one of the most important factors impacting mental health. Sleep studies have shown that sleep affects a number of elements of our mental health including stress resilience and impulse control. Yoga offers both a form of exercise and a tool for lowering stress levels, both of which have been shown to have a positive impact on sleep quality. Practicing yoga on a regular basis can help provide relief for those suffering from insomnia or sleep disturbances allowing you to wake up feeling rested and ready to take on life’s challenges.

Yoga for Mental Health: Give Yoga A Try

Yoga provides a wide range of health benefits that can provide a significant benefit to our mental health. Yoga has become widely available to millions of people all over the world who benefit from improved mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing.

If you feel like in need of a boost to your mental state yoga may be able to help. Experiment with its main forms and find the style of yoga that is right for you. As with any new discipline practicing consistently and allowing time for improvement are key.

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Written By: Linda Whiteside


Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who has been providing mental health services for over 10 years.

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson


Went to medical school at The George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C.

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