YOGA FOR MENTAL HEALTH – FIND A PRACTICAL SOLUTION

If you have mental health problems like depression, anxiety, panic attacks, stress, yoga for mental health will guide you through a process which can make you feel better in mind and body. Trials in the UK showed that during a course of 20 yoga classes the participants experienced significant reductions in symptoms. Yoga can reduce the heart rate, lower blood pressure, ease breathing and even increase the heart rate variability which helps the body to handel stress situations. Yoga is a natural anti-depressant helping to boost mental health, mostly caused by raising self-awareness during practice. Yoga is effective in releasing tension and lowering cortisol levels. Yoga allows your body to completely relax at its cellular level, for example by breathing exercises and having time for yourself.

SEE BELOW THE MOST EFFECTIVE POSES TO BENEFIT YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

How does Yoga benefit your mental health

By practicing Yoga you move from the sympathetic nervous system (which directs the body’s rapid involuntary response to dangerous or stressful situations, also called fight or flight system), to the parasympathetic nervous system (which is one of three divisions of the autonomic nervous system, also called the rest and digest system, which reduces the heart rate, increases intestinal and gland activity, and relaxes muscles in the gastrointestinal tract).

You are able to build self trust and get to know yourself better and increase your level of confidence.

You will discover your negative qualities and working from the outside to the inside, you will be able to doing your best with your weaknesses and faults.

Initial poses to start with

Child Pose

The child pose is the best pose to calm your body.

  • Sit on your knees, heels slightly apart and your buttocks nearly touching the floor. Keep your hand on your knees and keep your spine erect
  • Inhale and slowly stretch your arms upwards, exhale and slowly bend forward touching your palms and forehead on the floor
  • Stay there for some time. Breathe normally and keep your tummy tucked in

Downward facing dog

This is a great stretch for the whole body and influences also the mind to build up strength.

  • Start being on your hands and knees
  • Hands in front of your shoulders
  • Press back
  • Raise your knees from the floor
  • Lift your tailbone up
  • Push your heels toward the floor

Hold for 5 to 10 breaths and repeat 5 times

WARRIOR I
Warrior I

This pose is very important for mental health as it is a heart opening pose and brings you to face your fears.

  • Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, arms at your sides
  • Step wide apart
  • Right foot out 90 degrees, left foot inwards at 45 degrees
  • Front heel aligned with the arch of your back foot, pelvis toward mat front
  • Press down through your left heel, bend your right knee over your right ankle
  • Reach up through your arms
  • Gaze up at your thumbs, shoulders away from ears
  • Press down with your back foot, back leg straight
  • Hold for up to 1 minute
  • Release by pressing your weight through your back heel and straighten front leg, arms lowered
  • Repeat on the opposite side

Yoga Poses for Depression

Seated forward bend

 

 

 

 

 

 

This asana stimulates the centre of the solar plexus. It brings relief from anxiety and makes you feel more alive.

  • Start by sitting on the floor with your legs outstretched in front of you
  • Your spine should be erect, at the next inhalation stretch your hands above your head, do not bend your elbows
  • Bend slowly forward with your arms outstretched and try to reach your toes, if not just stretch as far as you are comfortable, with time you will reach your toes
  • Bring your weight backwards until you feel your hamstrings stretching
  • Bring your tummy in, breath normally and hold the position for 1 or 2 minutes
  • Repeat 10 times for a start, then increase to 20 or more times

Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend


This pose helps you to calm your nerves and give you confidence.

  • Step your feet about 3 to 4 feet apart, with your hands on your hips
  • Lift up tall through your whole torso and fold slowly over your legs
  • Place your hands flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart; begin to stretch your torso forward
  • Fold deeper, bringing your head toward the floor. Bend your elbows, stacking them over your wrists
  • Anchor your feet, firm your leg muscles up into your hips, and gently squeeze the outer thighs in
  • Lengthen your entire spine from your sitting bones to the crown of your head
  • Hug your forearms together, pointing your elbows straight back
  • Draw your shoulders up your back
  • Fold from your hip joints
  • After taking several breaths, ground into your feet, straighten your arms, and lengthen your spine forward
  • Inhale and slowly lift up to standing; then exhale

Two-Legged Inverted Staff Pose

This pose is good for lifting your spirit and it stimulates the nervous system.

  • Lie on your back. Bend your knees, feet on the ground hip distance apart
  • Bend your elbows and place the hands on the mat just behind the shoulders
  • Extend your tailbone toward the space between the heels and suck the low belly in and up
  • Inhale and press into your hands and feet
  • Hold for some breaths
  • Drop your forearms slowly to the ground
  • Interlace your fingers behind the head
  • Press the elbows, forearms, and wrists into the ground
  • Tuck your chin in slightly
  • Slowly begin to extend the legs away from you
  • Push into your feet, engaging the quads until the legs straighten

Shoulderstand


This pose relieves irritability and balances the emotions.

  • Lie on your back with your upper back on a folded blanket. Your head rests on the mat, the blanket ends in the hollow of your neck. Legs either outstretched or knees bent. Arms next to your body with the palms down
  • Push your lower back into the floor as you exhale and on an inhale lift your legs up, while you press your arms and palms into the floor
  • Sweep your legs over your head, lift your hips up and off the floor. Roll on your back, bringing the weight towards your upper back and shoulders
  • Bend your elbows and place your palms on your back
  • Stretch your legs up towards the ceiling. Draw your elbows in towards each other, and walk your hands up your back towards the upper back to help lift your spine off the floor. Open your chest and draw your shoulder blades in
  • Slightly draw your thighs towards each other and keep most of weight in your upper back and arms
  • Relax your face and throat, gaze at your chest and guide your breath towards your belly
  • To come out, lower your legs towards the floor to about a 45-degree angle. Then roll your spine slowly and carefully back to the floor. You might want your knees bent

Plow Pose

This pose is very good for quieting the nervous system.

  • Rest flat on your back, palms on the mat beside you
  • On an inhalation lift your feet off the floor to a 90 degree angle
  • Support your hips and lower back with your hands as you lift them off the floor
  • Continue lifting, hinge at the hips, feet directly above your head
  • Press your toes firmly into the mat beyond your head and press into your heels
  • Lift your top thighs and tailbone up
  • Make space between your chin and your chest
  • Exit slowly and controlled, hands on your back, hinge at the hips and slowly roll down vertebra by vertebra

 

Yoga Poses for Anxiety and Stress Relief

Child’s Pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This pose helps to relieve stress and stretches the spine, thighs and ankles.

  • Start on all fours, arms stretched out in front
  • Sit back on your glutes not touching the heels
  • Head between your arms

Hold for 5 to 10 breaths and repeat as often as you feel necessary

Triangle Pose

 

Revolved triangle pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

Triangle pose is ideal way to localize stress in your lower back. The pose opens the shoulder and extends the neck to release tension. Breathing during this pose and being present in the moment helps relieving stress.

  • Start standing upright with your feet together
  • Bring your left foot back about 80 cm and bring it out at a 45 degree angle
  • Turn your chest sideways
  • Open up by bringing your right arm to the ground and left arm to the ceiling
  • Keep both legs straight

Hold for 5 to 10 breaths and repeat as often as you feel necessary

Repeat on the other side

Cat and Cow Poses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These poses lengthen your spine and improve circulation to the discs between vertebrae and thus relieving stress from the back and calming the mind.

  • Start on all fours
  • Move into cat pose by pressing up your spine and arching your back
  • Hold for a few seconds
  • Move into cow pose by scooping your spine in and pressing your shoulder blades back
  • Lift your head

Do these poses alternatively for 10 times

Seated forward bend

 

 

 

 

 

 

This asana stimulates the centre of the solar plexus. It brings relief from anxiety and makes you feel more alive.

  • Start by sitting on the floor with your legs outstretched in front of you
  • Your spine should be erect, at the next inhalation stretch your hands above your head, do not bend your elbows
  • Bend slowly forward with your arms outstretched and try to reach your toes, if not just stretch as far as you are comfortable, with time you will reach your toes
  • Bring your weight backwards until you feel your hamstrings stretching
  • Bring your tummy in, breathe normally and hold the position for 1 or 2 minutes
  • Repeat 10 times for a start, then increase to 20 or more times

FOUR-LIMBED STAFF POSE

Four limbed staff pose

This pose positively shapes the physical, mental, and emotional health, increases stamina and invigorates the mind.

  • From standing slowly lower your torso and legs to a few inches above and parallel to the floor, feet apart
  • Fingers spread wide apart, arms straight, tailbone tucked under
  • Legs hips and torso form a straight line
  • Heels pressed back
  • Keep the body in a straight line and lower down a couple of inches above the floor
  • Elbows at 90 degrees, shoulders and elbows one line
  • Hold for a couple of breaths and come out of the pose

Bridge pose

This pose opens the chest, heart and shoulders, can reduce anxiety and tension in the upper body.

  • Lie on your back with bent knees and feet firmly flat on the mat
  • Extend your arms, palms flat on the floor
  • Lift your pelvic and let your torso follow
  • Leave thighs and feet parallel with your weight evenly distributed
  • Hold for one minute and slowly drop back to the floor, then rise into an upright position

Camel Pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the most important benefits of this pose is stress and anxiety relief. Bending back opens the mind, releases tensions, and revitalizes the brain.

  • Come to your knees, legs hip-width apart
  • Place your hands on your hips, thumbs on your sacrum
  • Keep your hips over your knees and internally rotate your thighs, squeezing them toward each other
  • Inhale and reach your tailbone toward your knees, creating space between your lower vertebrae
  • Lift your sternum and draw your elbows toward each other, allowing your rib cage to expand
  • Keep your chest raised, your core engaged, your spine long, and your chin tucked as you drop your hands toward your heels
  • Press your hands into the heels of your feet. Keep lifting through your sternum
  • Lift your shoulders to allow the muscles between the shoulder blades to rise up
  • Gently lower the head and neck and gaze at the tip of your nose

Bow Pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This pose massages the adrenal glands on the top of each kidney which regulate the stress response and hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline. It also boosts self-esteem, confidence and makes you feel happy.

  • Lie on your belly, hands alongside your torso, palms up
  • Exhale and bend your knees, bring your heels close to your buttocks
  • Reach back with your hands and take hold of your ankles
  • Knees not wider than your hips for the whole duration
  • Inhale and lift your heels away from your buttocks and lift your thighs away from the floor
  • Continue lifting the heels and thighs, shoulder blades pressing against your back
  • Shoulders away from your ears, look forward
  • Stay in this pose for as long as half a minute
  • Release as you exhale
  • Repeat the pose once or twice

 

Butterfly Pose



This pose helps relieve mild depression, anxiety, and fatigue and works towards mental relaxation and stress reduction.

  • Start the pose by sitting on the floor. Legs and back straight, hands on the mat
  • With an exhalation, bend the knees and bring the heels close to the pelvic region
  • Drop the knees out to the floor and bring the soles of the feet together
  • Clasp the hands around the ankles, shins, or toes
  • Stay in this pose for around 3-5 minutes
  • You can also flip your legs up and down in a moderate way

 

Corpse Pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

The corpse pose allows your body to relax and calms the mind and helps relieve stress and mild depression.

  • Lie down with your face upwards, keep your feet slightly apart and stretched out
  • Keep your hands on either side of the body, palms facing upwards. Close your eyes
  • Inhale and exhale deeply, allowing your body to relax completely
  • Stay there till you feel your body is back to normal

 

Conclusion

As mental health is getting a bigger issue in modern times, and people often do not seek advice because they do not want to reveal that they suffer from mental unstability, Yoga for mental health could help so many to overcome this.

It is a proven fact that yoga increases body awareness, relieves stress, reduces muscle tension, strain and inflammation, helps to concentrate and calms the nervous system.

And it is also without a doubt that yoga practice improves your quality of life. You will learn to note differences between a tense and a calm body and you can bring upon a change through different postures and deep breathing.

But you will ask “How is this possible?”

The answer is that for the body to relax at the nerve and cellular level, you need to change biochemical body processes from excitement and tension to a state of calm, deep rest and relaxation. Yoga practice changes the firing patterns of the nerves.  When you are in a certain posture and keep breathing deeply, you come from a biochemical tension to a calm body and mind. Your body ceases the production of nerve chemicals, like adrenaline and stops dumping fatty acids and sugar into the bloodstream and sodium leaves the cells. This slows down the rate of nerve firing and further relaxes your brain, heart, and muscles, oxygenates the blood, restores blood acidity and alkalinity balance, and reduces heart rate and  blood pressure.

I hope this article will be of help and will make a change to your life!

 

20 thoughts on “YOGA FOR MENTAL HEALTH – FIND A PRACTICAL SOLUTION

  1. Alex Rubio Reply

    I really consider Yoga very helpful as a relaxing ‘tool’. Yet, I don’t know much about it. Just read all of your content and I had really enjoyed it; I want to try these different postures for sure and I am going to come back and give you my personal feedback on them! Thank you for sharing this information, quality content.

    • Angelika Sesterheim Post authorReply

      Hello Alex, thank you for your positive comment and let me know how you get on. All the best and kind regards, Angelika

  2. MrBiizy Reply

    Holla Angelika, thanks for sharing this post to educate us on Yoga for mental health. The benefits of Yoga can not be exhausted as regarding mental health and especially breath for me. As a singer, I am looking forward to getting fully involved in Yoga. These poses you have shared are just great to start with especially corpse pose, child’s pose and the others. Helpful article.

    • Angelika Sesterheim Post authorReply

      Hello, thank you for your comment and I can fully understand that yoga will be very good for you as a singer as it will help you also with breathing, relaxing, physical and mental confidence. Keep going! Thanks again, Angelika

  3. Benny Reply

    Hello, I really want to first appreciate your effort in putting this great website together and writing this article. I think I will have to sign up for a yoga class as soon as possible.. The benefits are just too important to neglect and I know it is going to take some time but I will master the art and eventually engage fully. Thank you very much for this post

    • Angelika Sesterheim Post authorReply

      Hello Benny, thank you for your kind comment. I hope you will find a good yoga class and start with the practice. Let me know if you have any more questions. When choosing a yoga class, you should just watch out for a class where you feel comfortable, just rely on your feelings. All the best, Angelika

  4. Wanda Reply

    I really enjoyed this article.  I have done yoga in the past and I do use some of these poses for stretching and physical release.  I do the child pose and the downward dog after a run.  The stress you feel leave your body is great.  

    I do suffer from depression, so I think I will try and implement some of these yoga poses into my daily routine.  My gym doesn’t at this time offer yoga and there isn’t a lot of options here in my area.  However, I do see the benefits of these stretches.

    How often would you recommend someone use these stretches to help with their depression? Everyday, maybe 3-4 times a week?  I would be very interested in your thoughts!

    • Angelika Sesterheim Post authorReply

      Hello Wanda, thank you for your comment and I hope that some of the poses will help you overcome depression. I think 3 to 4 times a week of practicing will already show good results. Let me know how you get on. Kind regards, Angelika

  5. Shanta Rahman Reply

    Many thanks to you for sharing such an excellent article with us . I am a man very aware of health .Yoga is very important for mental health .YOGA is a very effective way to reduce mental health problems such as depression and anxiety .So I do yoga every day for my mental health and I am mentally healthy as well as physically .But what has worked best for me was my self-confidence in myself .I have always been keen on discovering my positive qualities and turning negative ones into positive ones .I practice Child Pose most of the time because my body needs to calm down first .Downward facing dog also influences the mind to increase energy and strength for the whole body .I found some more yoga through your article for my Mental Health I will follow these soon and hopefully get better results and share my new experience with you soon.

    • Angelika Sesterheim Post authorReply

      Hello Shanta, thank you very much for your comment and I am glad to hear that you already have discovered how yoga can help for staying healthy mentally and physically. Let me know how you get on. Have a lovely day. Angelika

  6. Md Millat Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing such an excellent article with us. Your article was very interesting and informative. I have got a lot of information about Yoga for mental health.  Yoga is very important in every human life. Mental health problems, depression, anxiety, panic attacks can be avoided through yoga exercises. It can lower the heart rate, lower blood pressure, reduce breathing. I enjoyed reading your article and found valuable information. I will share your article with my friends so that my friends can benefit from this valuable information by reading your article. I have bookmarked your website so that I can come back to your website later.

    • Angelika Sesterheim Post authorReply

      Hello, I am so glad that my article is helping a lot of people. Thanks for bookmarking me and I wish you and your friends a lot of joy doing yoga and improving your lives. All the best and kind regards, Angelika

  7. Paul Reply

    Hi Angelika,

    The benefits you shared about each pose is super helpful. I am bookmarking your article for future reference and you have provided loads of valuable information. The step by step walk-through and the images are a greater help.

    One of my new year’s resolution for 2020 is doing Yoga regularly. I am from India and you might be aware that Yoga is very famous here. I started doing some basics and your article means a lot to me. I got great insights!

    Warrior, Seated forward bend and four-limbed staff pose are on my list.

    • Angelika Sesterheim Post authorReply

      Hello Paul, thank you very much for your comment and I hope your new year’s resolution will come true and you enjoy doing yoga. Warm regards, Angelika

  8. alam jahangir Reply

    Yoga is important for our mental health. Yoga can increase your confidence level. It is a good article about Yoga. You told about some yoga steps. All are great steps. I am trying everyday Shoulderstand Plow Pose Triangle Pose Cat and Cow Poses etc. its help me very much. You can also try it. This article helped me very much. Thank you very much for posting this article. 

    Thank you

    • Angelika Sesterheim Post authorReply

      Hello Alam, thank you very much for your comment and it is great to hear that you do various poses every day and that these are definitely helping you. Keep on going! All the best, Angelika

  9. Evagreene Reply

    Thanks for sharing this! Also, Yoga  increases body awareness, relievesstress, reduces muscle tension, strain, and inflammation, sharpens attention and concentration, and calms and centers the nervous system. 

    I’ll try out these practical solutions daily. Thanks alot for this information, it’s really helpful to my mom’s mental health condition at the moment!

    • Angelika Sesterheim Post authorReply

      Hello, thank you for your comment and remarks. It is good to know that you will try out these poses daily. Just keep up the good work and you will be surprised by the results. Kind regards, Angelika

  10. Dan Sicat Reply

    I heard about the benefits of yoga to the body and mind. I haven’t tried it though. I do not think I could do those bending poses. Lol. Seriously speaking, my friend has been suffering from stress that really affects his mental state of mind. He is feeling anxiety most of the time. I think yoga could help him ease his mind and find calmness. I will definitely share this post to him. 

    • Angelika Sesterheim Post authorReply

      Hello Dan, thank you for your comment, I am glad if my article can help and I wish your friend all the best. Just encourage him to do at least some of the poses regularly. Warm regards, Angelika

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