How does yoga improve mental health

On a physical Level, yoga postures are designed to massage the internal organs, increasing and decreasing blood flow to targeted areas. This circulates the blood and lymph, thus removing stale bodily fluids from vital organs and helping flush toxins. The physical movement can also stimulate certain hormones and neurotransmitters, leading to positive feelings and emotions.

Additionally, according to the Eastern medical model, yoga exercises are also designed to specifically move the “prana” or life force energy in the body (traditional Oriental medicine calls this “chi”). Keeping this life force fresh and alive is vital to well- being, according to Eastern philosophy.

Yoga poses stimulate certain aspects of the body’s energetic system, comprised of “chakras” (energy centers) and “nadis”(the yogic term for “meridians” or energy channels). As stuck prana is moved and energized, old emotional wounds manifesting as blockages in the energy centers and channels can be released. This may explain why so many yoga practitioners experience a sense of emotional release from practicing certain poses, such as a spontaneous expression of tears, providing a sense of extreme relief and peace afterwards.

The special breathing exercises that go along with yoga (called ” pranayama”) also serve to energize the body by bringing fresh quantities of prana in through the breath. These breathing exercises can also alleviate anxiety and create a sense of calm and well-being.

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