Just as it is important for our body to be in shape for us to enjoy a healthy lifestyle the same is true about our mental health, mental health refers to our emotional well being and this helps us get through our daily life with little or few problems.
Stress and worry can cause our mental health to deteriorate and this can cause problems in our family life and at work, practicing yoga on a daily basis can help to keep our mental health good and our body fit and well. Yoga can help to relieve mental illness problems, these problems can be divided into six categories which are:
- Mood disorders – These can be feelings of hopelessness and despair, we can go off our food or eat more than usual, have problems sleeping or nightmares, feel tired all the time or they can even lead to self harm or suicide. There is basically two different types of mood disorder these are.
- Depression – This is a state of extreme sadness or melancholy, the person suffering from depression can go into themselves and go off food and have trouble sleeping to the point where it affects there life.
- Bipolar disorder – This is a condition where a person goes between depression and an elevated almost joyful mood on a regular basis.
The symptoms of mood disorders are usually only temporary and many of us at some time or other will get depressed it is when the symptoms last for more than two weeks that it is said we have a mental health problem.
- Anxiety disorders – These include anxiety felt in the extreme, phobias and panic attacks that are severe enough to disrupt our daily routine. Anxiety disorders will usually develop over a period of time and gradually worsen.
- Schizophrenia – This occurs when a person’s sense of perception is distorted; they will experience disordered thinking and will usually have hallucinations.
- Eating disorders – These involve any obsession with food it can either be not eating to the point of anorexia or over eating such as bulimia.
- Personality disorders – These are destructive, abnormal thoughts or behaviour and emotional responses. People who suffer from personality disorders will usually have problems when dealing with others.
- Organic brain disorders – These are usually the result of accidents and physical brain injury, people suffering from organic brain disorders will usually have memory loss and suffer confusion.
How yoga can help
Yoga is known for its series of slow rhythmic movements or poses, which are called Asanas. These along with breathing exercises and meditation reach deep into the body and mind and help in cleansing and maintaining our nervous and circulatory systems, which automatically gives us a healthier mind and body.
By practicing the breathing exercises this makes sure that our muscles and internal organs receive a fixed amount of oxygen. Yoga alone will of course not treat a mental illness or cure it but it can help to alleviate conditions which may have caused the illness.
If you are suffering from a mental illness then seek the advice of a Doctor for you may need medication and counseling to work alongside the practice of yoga.
One of the five principles of yoga is breathing exercises or Pranayama, the basis behind the exercises are to teach us how to breathe properly. In yoga proper breathing is done when you are bringing more oxygen to the blood and the brain, Pranayama works together with the Asanas or poses in yoga to promote a healthier inner and outer being and these two principles are the highest form of self discipline and purification for both the body and the mind.
What is yogic breathing?
Pranayama is a series of exercises that are intended to keep the mind and body vibrant and in good health, Prana means life energy and yama means control therefore Pranayama means breathe control.
In our breathing process we breathe in and take oxygen into our body and this oxygen flows through the different parts of our body then when we breathe out and exhale carbon dioxide, this takes away all the toxic waste from our body’s.
By practicing yogic breathing the balance of carbon dioxide and oxygen is maintained properly. Breathing is the most important part of our life but so often we breathe the wrong way, very often we breathe too shallowly and fast and this way of breathing only uses a fraction of the lungs which results in a lack of oxygen.
Disorders such as heart disease sleep disorders and tiredness can all occur as a result of oxygen starvation. There are four stages of Pranayama:
- Arahmba – This is the beginning phase of Pranayama when our interest in awakened.
- Ghata – This is the stage when the three sariras which are gross, subtle and casual.
- Parichay – This is the stage where the person begins to understand the power of yogic breathing.
- Nispatti – This is the ultimate goal where the yogi becomes totally at peace with themselves.
The benefits of yogic breathing
Although breathing is a function which comes automatically it is something that is very rarely thought about or something that we concentrate on, so what are the benefits of yogic breathing?
Many of us have gotten into the habit of breathing badly and only using a fraction of the lungs breathing the yogic way teaches us to breathe slowly and deeply, which is the correct way of breathing and the one which is most beneficial to our health.
- Yogic breathing helps to eliminate waste and reduce the toxin build up.
- Yogic breathing helps to develop the concentration and gain better self control, our minds will then function properly and we have less problems.
- Yogic breathing practiced on a regular basis will help you to relax easier and this takes the stress and strain out of everyday life.