You know that feeling you have in the last few minutes of yoga when the instructor goes around the room and gives you a nice temple massage with essential oils? That mood is much more than just an endorphin rush. Yoga is key to spiritual and emotional healing and growth.

Many confuse the practice of yoga as a nice way to get some activity into your routine, but it is much more psychological than physical as it keeps us in tune with our spiritual and deeper emotions. Here are 5 ways that yoga improves and maintains our mental health.

1. Relaxes anxiety
What people don’t know is that anxiety stems from our breathing patterns and how long we cling on to what we cannot control. Yoga is a practice that forces you to disconnect from any outside thoughts and release any tension you are experiencing. By following the instructor’s counts and mirroring their breathing, our dopamine levels skyrocket and release positive energy, resulting in less inner frustration.

2. Become more conscious
Many of us are guilty of reacting too quickly or irrationally without really knowing
what stemmed that reaction. When doing yoga, your mind and body are required to work together to perform in a certain way. The more you practice that mind and body connection, the habit begins to form and follows you into your everyday life. Consciousness is an important trait to have because a wiser reaction and knowing your reasoning behind them create a more relaxed way of life.

3. Positive environment
This one is pretty simple... haven’t you noticed the energy in a yoga class? Everyone is motivated, the instructor’s energy is sky high and is spewing out affirmation’s. When have you ever heard someone say they had a bad yoga class or regretted going to yoga?

4. Empowerment
Speaking of energy, notice the intention of everyone in the room. Unlike a typical
cardio workout class, there is zero room for competition or sizing someone up. If you’re someone who can’t help but judge someone before you get to know them and doesn’t always carry a positive attitude (which tremendously affects your mental health directly) then you could for sure improve your attitude and way of thinking when surrounding yourself in a positive environment.

5. Reflection
We’ve been taught to know how to reflect at a very young age, but how many times
have we been taught to reflect on ourselves and what we deal with? As explained several times, yoga is a mind and body connection, and the mind needs to be in full peace in order to perform. Throughout the class, the instructor will prompt students to go in and set an intention for the class and to think back on what they did that day or week. This is crucial for mental health because it lets us recognize all we do and for some, may even cause them to draw back from work overload.
Some people say that yoga isn’t “for them” and is too slow paced to be considered a workout or worth their time. But if our minds are always racing a mile a minute, what good are we doing to ourselves without taking a moment to appreciate all our bodies do for us?

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