Yoga beneficial to mental health

Regular yoga practise helps mind and body.

New research has found practising yoga can improve mental health. 

The study, led by the University of South Australia, found movement-based yoga improved the mental health of people living with depression, post-traumatic stress, schizophrenia, anxiety, alcohol dependence and bipolar.

Lead researcher Jacinta Brinsley said yoga could help people struggling to cope during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Our review of available evidence shows that movement-based yoga improves symptoms of depression in people who have been diagnosed with a mental disorder so it’s very good news for people struggling in times of uncertainty,” Ms Brinsley said.

Brisbane-based Yoga instructor Jessica Jasch said the mental health benefits of yoga were well known in the yoga community.

“For many people, the mental health benefits of regularly practising yoga far outweigh the physical benefits,” Ms Jasch said.

“It comes down to working with the parasympathetic nervous system which helps to manage the body’s stress response.

“Different poses and breathing practices help to trigger a calming response in the body which can help people to better manage their stress response.”

Ms Jasch said while yoga studios in Queensland were beginning to reopen, practising yoga at home had many advantages.

“We’re beginning to open up again with restricted numbers and social distancing in place but you can still get the full benefits of yoga practise at home,” she said.

“Virtual classes make it easy to tailor your practise to when it’s convenient for you which, when we’re in this period of heightened anxiety and uncertainty, can really help you to relax and destress.

“Yoga doesn’t necessarily give you the solutions, but it helps your state of being.”

Globally, more than 450 million people experience mental health issues, with the World Health Organization reporting that one in four people will be affected by a mental health condition or a neurological disorder at some point in their lives. 

Top yoga poses to reduce stress

  • Child’s pose
  • Supported butterfly pose
  • Legs up the wall