Physical movement has long been known to positively contribute to mental health. When we move our bodies, we release serotonin and endorphins which are proven to improve mood.
In today's uncertain world, those endorphins have never been more crucial.
Data collected by the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that in January 2021, one in five (22%) Australians reported their mental health as worse or much worse than before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Noticing this trend in the community and the need for an outlet, Kati Cooper, founder of Coastal Bliss Yoga and Wellness, has introduced 'yoga for mental health' classes to her studio, which she says has become more popular in recent months.
"Yoga has proven to help release tension, teaches you to control your breath, lower cortisol levels which in return helps you boost your mood plus those feel - good hormones released when you exercise. It teaches self-awareness and self acceptance, which is especially important when someone is dealing with physical or mental health problems, and feel detached from the body," Ms Cooper said.
So, what exactly can one expect from a yoga class for mental health?
"We bring the focus on how the movement feels, how it connects with the breath, and experiencing being in control (which is incredibly important as trauma comes from loosing control), and with thoughtful sequencing release the tension that we tend to hold in the body," Ms Cooper said.
"When everything feels uncertain and life as we know it can change so quickly, a regular yoga practise can provide you with your own safety net."
A 2020 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine demonstrated the positive impact yoga can have on an individuals mental health. The research documented the change in the mental health of 1080 participants, including those who experienced post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression and bipolar. Yoga showed greater reductions in depressive symptoms than treatment as usual and attention control.
The 2020 study conducted by the British Journal of Sports Medicine also revealed that more regular practise yields more mental health benefits.
Co-author of the study, Professor Felipe Schuch, said, "it is likely that other aspects of yoga including meditation may play an important role in overall management and recovery [of mental health symptoms]".
For sufferers of stress, anxiety, depression and even chronic pain, yoga could be a practise that potentially improves symptoms.
"The yoga mat becomes a safe playground, where you can learn again to trust your body and be kind to yourself. Finding the balance between effort and ease - this is where magic happens and new patterns learned, while the chronic stress patterns relieved," Ms Cooper said.
If you or someone you know is experiencing needs help, call Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636
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