Yoga for Mental Health

"Suffering is the breaking of the shell that encloses our understanding."

– Kahlil Gibran

The word yoga means to unite. Yoga is a mind/body practice that promotes integration and balance. Research reveals that regular yoga practice supports the treatment of mental health illnesses and other stress related health problems. Yoga calms the nervous system, increases awareness physically, mentally and emotionally, relieves stress, reduces muscle tension and enhances attention and concentration. One in five Canadians, in any given year, experience a mental health problem or illness. Yoga can be an excellent adjunct to talk therapy. If consistently practiced, yoga can be a potent antidote to suffering.

Benefits of breathing and movement

Breathing (pranayama) is a central component of yoga. With regular yoga practice, you learn to breathe more fully and regulate your breath, lowering heart rate, decreasing blood pressure, calming the mind and balancing the nervous system.

Photo by Vanessa DeZutter at 889

Photo by Vanessa DeZutter at 889

Movement is life. Through yoga, we learn to become embodied. With regular practice, you learn to mindfully experience your body and the range of sensations, thoughts and emotions that arise. Your body is a naturally sensitive informant if you allow it to be. Through regular yoga practice, an awareness is cultivated that you are more than your thoughts and feelings. Breath, movement and yoga postures anchor us in the here and now, helping us to feel more present and grounded. By consistently engaging in practices like breathing, moving and meditation, you learn to mindfully observe self, choose your response in challenging situations and draw on constructive coping tools.

What might a yoga session for mental health look like?

In a private yoga session for mental health, I might draw upon several of the following elements:

  • intention setting

  • breath exploration

  • mindful movement and/or restorative postures

  • guided meditation and relaxation

  • yoga philosophy

  • guided visualization

There is opportunity for questions and discussion within a safe supportive environment. Homework may be suggested.

To book a private yoga session with me, please visit Private Yoga.

"Wholeness does not mean Perfection; it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life."

– Parker Palmer