Yoga for Stress Reduction
With regular practice, yoga is effective in managing anxiety, stress, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms. Our yoga sessions focus on breathing techniques and restorative poses to increase flexibility, decrease tension, and counteract the body’s natural fight-or-flight response.
Yoga increases body awareness and works to disrupt negative thought patterns. In addition to group classes and individual therapy, you can schedule individual sessions to address your needs.
- Stabilize and reduce your mental health symptoms.
- Breath easier: breath is the foundation. It is the bridge between the body and mind. Breathing techniques are used to calm and strengthen the nervous system and thus increase vitality. Regulation of the breath is the quickest and easiest way to bring us back inside our bodies. Breathing is commonly used as an anxiety management technique
- Focus Clearly: Meditation is a practice by which we can become better acquainted with our own mental processes and therefore with ourselves. The mind can be a great source of distress when it is out of our control. When we cannot slow down or direct it, the mind can be a source of anguish and frustration. The practice of meditation allows us to gain control of the mind so that we can use it to our benefit instead of allowing it to cause distress. The practice of meditation allows us to find clarity and peace of mind.
- Move freely: Mindful Movement is a tool that helps connect breathing to movement. Mindful Movement is a powerful way to bring awareness to and transform physical markers of mental health. It helps us connect our bodies in the present moment while allowing the distress to move out of the body, mind, and spirit. The coordination of breath and movement brings profound focus to the practice and increases the health benefits of the yoga postures.
- Rest Deeply: During this practice, you will be given the opportunity to lie down or sit as comfortably as you can. The instructor will guide you through a series of body scanning techniques, mindful awareness practices, and gentle breathing practices.
- Full Body Awareness: by focusing our awareness on individual parts of the body, we are able to build the skill of mindful awareness. This is helpful in learning to guide and control the mind. This skill is helpful both on and off the mat. When we can utilize this skill in daily life, we are better able to manage challenges as they arise.
- Building Resilience The practice of gratitude is a simple one with profound results. Taking time each day to reflect on and acknowledge one or several things we are grateful for, creates a shift in consciousness and leads to a broadening of inner resources. These inner resources provide a platform for resilience. In this session, we will explore how to create a gratitude practice and why it works on a psychological and physical level.
"Yoga Benefits For Mental Health taken from https://www.mentalhelp.net/articles/yoga-for-mental-health/
I'm a clinical psychologist by education. When I recommend Yoga as a great practice to take up in order to promote one's health, I'm thinking more about the mental benefits than the physical ones although both are present. To my mind, Yoga offers the following benefits:
- Yoga Provides The Health Benefits Of Physical Exercise
Psychologists have long known that moderate exercise is good for depression and anxiety. Such exercise can easily be found in Yoga practice. Yoga postures are designed to promote physical strength, flexibility and balance. Anyone who has ever taken a Yoga class will attest that there are cardio/heart benefits to be had; your heart rate is frequently up while performing postures much as it would be if you were performing more conventional exercise. Though Yoga gets your heart rate up and your endorphines pumping, it also provides for many rest periods. These rest periods lend a gentle quality to the conditioning that makes it easier to endure than 'marathon' style exercise. You seldom feel as though you can't go on.
By emphasizing gentle stretching of the joints and spine, Yoga promotes increased range of motion, and joint health. It helps work out muscular kinks and minor problems that might otherwise lead to back pain or stiffness. In promoting joint and spinal flexibility, Yoga also seems to promote a certain kind of mental freedom; there is a definitive feeling of mental ease and comfort that you experience at the end of a Yoga class that is linked to being free to move muscles that were tight before the class started. It doesn't always last long, but it is very real and very soothing while it lasts.
As with any physical workout, Yoga practice concentrates your mind on the physical sensations and on the perfection of the postures. The immersive concentration factor Yoga provides works as a helpful tonic for anxious and obsessional people. The practice of Yoga (or most any other demanding physical exercise) can be a great distraction from worry as it forces the mind to attend to the body and the breathing; the moment.
- Yoga Promotes Relaxation And Emotional Control
As much as us mental health types like to emphasize language and verbal expression (or the blunt hammer of Valium) as the best ways of dealing with emotional problems, body-based therapeutic interventions have a role to play too. After all, the 'stress response that so many anxious and depressed people have problems with begins with the fight or flight reflex - the physical preparation of the body to defend, or flee. Chronic stress has an impact on the body in the form of chronic muscle tension and stiffness, and this very stiffness and tension seems to produce some of the worry and agony that anxious and stressed out persons report.
Yoga is a very effective stress reduction and relaxation tool. Performance of various postures requires the tensing and stretching and then relaxing of muscle groups and joints, which effectively produces relaxation in much the same way that a massage or Progressive Muscle Relaxation (a technique used by behavioral psychologists) does. Yoga practice also draws attention towards breathing, which produces a meditative and soothing state of mind. Yoga methods for stress reduction and self-soothing are generally cheaper than other professional interventions (Yoga can be done for free if you know what you're doing, and classes are no more expensive than group psychotherapy prices), pretty much safe, free of side effects, and empowering in comparison to medication alternatives.
On a more theoretical note: In the last decade, leading therapists have discovered that coupling a self-soothing, relaxation-inducing group of techniques with action oriented (cognitive behavioral) therapy often produces better results for difficult-to-treat patient populations than action-oriented therapies alone. I'm thinking of Linehan's Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (aimed primarily at Borderline Personality Disorder patients), and Hayes' Acceptance and Committment Therapy as examples. Yoga techniques promoting relaxation, self-soothing and body awareness skills are a good fit with these newer therapeutic approaches, and might prove helpful in getting impulsive and chaotically driven patients to engage the structured tools and techniques of cognitive therapy that could help them progress.
- Yoga Provides Structured Social Opportunities
With due respect to stereotypes of yogic mystics sitting cross legged in splendid isolation on a mountain top, most Yoga in the west (and I suspect in the east) is done in classrooms. As such, the practice of Yoga on any regular basis becomes a significant social opportunity as much as anything else. You don't necessarily get to know everyone, or quickly, but if you commit yourself to the practice of Yoga, you'll soon enough find that you recognize faces in the class, and sooner or later, you end up making friends unless you do something to discourage that from happening. The friendships of our childhood were formed in just such a group crucible, only this one is available to adults. I know I don't have to mention that participation in social events is a way to combat depressive withdrawal, but I will anyway (grin!)."