Being “centered” is the idea of having a positive mental and emotional reference point to come back to when the world gets chaotic and stressful. When people hear the term, they often think of meditation, which certainly is an excellent way to bring your life and outlook back into balance. But, meditation isn’t the only way to do so. Another proven technique is yoga. Yoga is a centuries-old practice that we frequently recommend to clients at our mental health clinic.
The Many Benefits of Regular Yoga Practice
Regular yoga practice is known to improve flexibility, balance and core strength to name just a few of the physical benefits. But, the mental and emotional changes that result from ongoing yoga sessions are equally impressive. For example, yoga can:
- Calm your nervous system. Yoga’s emphasis on slow, restorative breathing and keeping your mind in the present moment helps you move out of “fight-or-flight” mode and into a calm, relaxed state of mind.
- Improve self-esteem. Anyone who has taken a yoga class or even just attempted yoga poses in a living room understands that it is not an easy practice. As your ability to get into, and hold, more difficult poses grows, so does your confidence and the feeling that you have the power to change your life.
- Increase focus. Mastering yoga poses requires that you be fully aware of your breathing, the position of your limbs, your center of gravity, etc. And, rather than an intense awareness, it’s a powerful but soft focus that you can return to whenever you are stressed.
- Increase happiness. Research suggests that yoga can produce positive changes in the hormones that affect our state of well-being, thereby decreasing the symptoms of depression and increasing happiness.
- Improve sleep. Regular yoga practitioners may find that the state of calm it produces during the day translates to better sleep at night.
- Lead to better self-care. People who practice yoga frequently discover that it creates a positive trajectory for their health in general, and they start eating better, getting aerobic exercise, etc.
- Create better impulse control. Sudden or erratic movements are no friend to yoga practitioners, who can quickly find themselves in a heap on the mat if they are not cautious. The restraint to move slowly and with forethought has as much benefit in our interactions with others as it does our interaction with gravity.
- Connect you to other like-minded people. Whether you take a yoga class or practice on your own, your knowledge of the benefits that come from challenging your body is something you share with an enormous yoga community around the world.
Yoga as a Free Refuge from Life’s Storms
As we tell people at our Denver-area mental health clinic, yoga is a powerful tool for helping you stay grounded in the face of adversity. And with instruction readily available on the internet, it is a tool that is essentially free of charge. If you have questions about mental health services at Community Reach Center, contact us online at communityreachcenter.org or by phone at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.