Which Type of Yoga is the Best for Improving Mental Health?
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and at Tempo, we pride ourselves on helping you stay fit physically and mentally. Yoga can be traced back more than 5,000 years
, proving that humankind has known for quite a while the power that this practice holds.
Yoga is included in our programming
, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t spend some time talking about why it’s so beneficial. Grab your yoga mat, get comfortable, and keep scrolling to learn how yoga can help your mental health.
The Connection Between the Mind and Body
Why should you consider yoga in the first place? Well, let’s first talk about how the mind and the body interact.
Sure enough, research tells us that there’s indeed a connection between your mental and physical health. For instance, individuals with mental health issues are likelier to suffer from preventable physical conditions
, like heart disease. And according to the CDC
, depression increases your risk of health problems like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Similarly, chronic physical conditions can also increase your risk of mental illness.
While the stigma surrounding mental health is an ongoing issue, thankfully, society is coming to better understand and accept that there is no health without mental health.
And that’s where yoga comes into the conversation.
The Benefits of Yoga on Mental Health Issues Like Anxiety and Depression
You know that you can go to the gym to build muscle and shed fat, but what about your mental fitness? More than 40 million adults
in the United States have some sort of anxiety disorder. And startlingly, depression is one of the leading causes of disability
around the globe. So, what can we do about that, and how can yoga help?
The research is promising. One study
published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine
found that Hatha yoga is a viable method for treating anxiety. Other research
looked at 35 trials that examined the effects of yoga on anxiety and stress. Of the 35 trials, 25 found a significant decrease in stress/anxiety symptoms through a yoga regimen — all the more reason to practice yoga
Using yoga for depression is also showing results. One meta-analysis
found that yoga could be beneficial for individuals with depressive disorders or elevated levels of depression. Another meta-analysis out of the University of Westminster
More research is absolutely needed, but what we know thus far about the benefits of yoga
on mental health is encouraging.
How Can You Use Yoga to Improve Your Mental Health?
Now that you know why yoga is so good for your mental health, let’s talk about how you can apply it to your own life with Tempo.
First, let’s talk about how you can practice right at home. While visiting your local yoga studio is always a fun time, all you need to do yoga at home is a small bit of space and a few helpful props. For instance, when you practice yoga with Tempo, you’ll have your mat, blocks, and straps. Blocks and straps help you achieve and hold certain positions when you need a little extra support; if you can’t yet do the full splits, you can lean on blocks to keep you a little higher off the ground.
There are four main types of yoga:
And it doesn’t end there. Even within the four main types of yoga, there are additional sub-types. For example, Raja yoga includes Kundalini, Vinyasa, and Hatha yoga, among others.
More specifically, Karma yoga is about detaching from the outcome of your actions and acting with no expectations. You must practice diminishing the ego and pay more attention to your attitude involved in an action, rather than the action itself.
At the core of Bhakti yoga is surrender and focusing on your personal relationship with God (or whatever power you prefer). Devotion is at its center.
Raja yoga is about mind and body control, with an emphasis on meditation and energetics. It’s the only type that involves physical practice. Raja yoga includes teachings from a variety of paths, and it incorporates the physical, mental, and spiritual dimensions — with the goal of striking a harmony between the three.
And lastly, we’ve got Jnana yoga, which refers to the path of gathering knowledge through meditation and self-inquiry. It focuses on heightened awareness and consciousness.
When you’re doing yoga with Tempo, some of the aims are to:
- Calm the chatter of the mind.
- Unite your mind, body, and spirit.
- Help you recognize that we’re connected to all the life around us.
- Encourage you to feel more at peace.
- Help you understand that you are more than your body.
- Guide you into better meditation.
“The poses are really an opportunity to study our own mental behavior and improve our mental health,” says Tempo’s Head Yogi, Jeremy.
“They have less to do with what they look like, and more to do with the energy and intention you put into them. Modern media has over-glorified fancy poses but the essence of the practice is a mental discipline that helps us to remain calm in the chaos and compassionate with ourselves and others.”
Tempo offers a few different kinds of yoga, all of which fall under Raja.
Vinyasa: This focuses on a balance of strength and flexibility. We work on transitions to ease the fluidity of movement, linking postures together with breath. You might have a cathartic experience, as Vinyasa yoga can flush out stagnant or negative energy. You’ll learn to embrace change and the impermanence of all things.
Power: Power yoga is more overtly strength-focused. You’ll practice longer, more challenging holds with fewer transitions. Breathing is vital, and power yoga is going to teach you (and your nervous system) how to handle stressful situations with ease.
Hatha: We call Hatha yoga Stretch. The emphasis is on stability and flexibility, with fewer transitions. The challenge is reduced and the focus is on holding active positions for longer periods of time.
Restorative: In our Restorative Yoga programming, the focus is on relaxation. You’re going to hold passive poses for longer periods of time so that your nervous system can fully unwind and reset. If you need to destress and get better sleep, this is a great option for you.
Meditation is also a huge part of yoga and one of the pillars of Tempo’s programming. By stilling the body, you’re able to still the mind. With Tempo, meditation takes many forms, including breathwork, mantra, visualization, and active moving meditations. When you meditate, the goal is to be fully present and rise above distractions.
Meditation is yoga. Yoga is meditation. Join Jeremy on Tempo for our “Learn Meditation” and “Fully Alive: 14-Day Meditation Challenge” programs. You might also enjoy “Meditation for Stress Release” and “Yoga for Stress Release.” All of these will work wonders for your mental health.
This Mental Health Awareness Month (and every month), commit to putting your emotional wellbeing first. Ready to practice your asanas and enjoy all of the mental health benefits that yoga has to offer?
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