The practice of yoga, bringing together both mind and body, has been around for years. Although there are many different types of yoga, most of them focus on movement, meditation, and deep breathing exercises. Over the years, yoga has become a popular tool in helping promote flexibility and improve strength and overall physical health. While yoga can help you reap many physical benefits, it can also be very useful in regard to mental health.

One large and popular component of yoga is the possible decrease in stress levels. High stress levels can have a large impact on your health, such as contributing to heartburn, insomnia and even increase your risk of a heart attack. This is why decreasing and maintaining stress levels are so important and studies show that yoga can play an important part in that. Another benefit of yoga, aside from a possible stress management tool, is that it can help symptoms associated with anxiety disorders. In fact, another study showed that “participation in a two-month yoga class can lead to significant reduction in anxiety levels in women who suffered from anxiety”.

Say you’re interested in yoga, whether for reducing stress or increasing flexibility-but you’re not sure where to begin. When you’re first starting out, it’s important to begin slowly. Doing yoga everyday right off the bat is not only a large commitment, but can actually lead to injury. Begin with a gentle practice and build up to something more frequent and more difficult over time. Remember, no one is proficient at something overnight.

Once you become more accustomed and consistent with your yoga routine, you can then increase the length of your sessions, as well as how many times a week you do it. You can also look into yoga studios or workshops to learn more about various yoga practices and styles. That being said, a yoga studio might be too expensive, too far away from your home or just not something you’re interested in. If that’s the case, two resources to look into are:  

  • Yoga with Adriene, a channel that offers a multitude of free yoga practices, such as yoga for mental health, flexibility, virtual learners and more. Not only that, but there are also yoga practices by length, because sometimes we just don’t have the time to do a full hour workout! One of my favorites is the ‘Yoga for Neck Pain’, which is a life-saver when leaning over a computer screen.
  • Yoga Journal, an online publication that provides information on the history of yoga, as well as shows different yoga poses based on type or level of difficulty (beginners to advanced). It also offers poses based on accessibility, if standing is not possible or painful. While some of the articles and poses require payment, most of them are free, informative and fun!

Those are just two of many resources out there to get you started on your yoga journey. However, while studies have shown that yoga can be helpful in reducing stress and anxiety symptoms, using it alone might not be a great idea without consulting a mental health professional first.

Remember, it’s important to start slow, be patient, but ultimately, have fun with it!

Staff Blogger: Mollie Clupper

Mollie Clupper is working for MHA as a Communications and Support Specialist. Using her own experiences, she wants to help bring awareness and end the stigma surrounding mental health. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, drinking coffee, and spending time with her fur-niece.