Heal your mind with Yoga

Yoga is often thought of as an exercise or physical fitness program. But over the years, its value as a relaxation and stress management tool has become apparent. At present, many doctors and medical professionals recommend engaging in yoga not just as a form of exercise, but to manage stress, relieve anxiety, sleep better, and in general feel better. Yoga, in effect, is now used to improve physical as well as mental and emotional health.

Everyone recognizes that mental health is as important as, or even more important than, physical health. A person’s general well-being is dictated by many things: his physical health, social and emotional state, and spiritual condition. When these are in harmony, a person has good mental health. He demonstrates self-acceptance and sees a meaning to life, and has positive relationships with others.

Mental health is influenced by factors such as family, work, social environment, relationships, genes, and life experiences. Negative influences and experiences are a normal part of life; everyone will experience some amount of pain, sorrow, emotional trauma and similar negative experiences at times. When these become too great for him to bear, the result may be some mental illness like an anxiety disorder or, more commonly, depression. These mood disorders or psychological problems are increasingly becoming common. This stresses the need for yoga or any program that effectively helps improve mental health.

People can use yoga for mental health by, first of all, attending a class to learn how to practice yoga. When one does this, he goes out to be with other people. This in it itself is a step, however small, to become part of a social group. It brings one out of isolation, a state that can engender loneliness and depression.

As a person learns the postures of yoga called asanas, he learns to concentrate on his body, the physical movements, and his breathing. While thus engaged, he leaves the outside world behind and with it, whatever stress or anxiety that may be present in his life. One hour of yoga clears up his mind, calms down his emotions, and brings him in peaceful union with his body-in addition to the physical benefits he gets out of the yoga routine. Imagine if this is done daily, or several times in a week over some period of time. The cumulative effect will surely count a long way in keeping him stress-free, happier and healthier.

As an ancient art of meditation and spiritual attunement, there is more to yoga than meets the eye. It is believed that the movements and breathing techniques in yoga help to correct any irregularity in the visible and invisible bodies of man. According to some yoga masters, the asanas help purify and strengthen the nervous and circulatory systems of the body. Moreover, they also cleanse invisible pathways of chi or energy throughout the body. They clear blockages and strengthen energy centers in the body called chakras. Thus, the physical body functions better, as do the person’s mental, emotional and spiritual aspects.

Whether one believes in the esoteric teachings of yoga or not, the fact is that it works to bring about better overall health. All persons can effectively use yoga for mental health, emotional well being and spiritual advancement.

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