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March 31, 2011
The various forms of yoga, yoga postures, meditation, and pranayama, have significant health benefits. Yoga improves your physical fitness and also has a positive impact on your emotional and spiritual health. Additionally, the risk of injuries when practising yoga is minimal; of course, you need to practise yoga only under the guidance of a trained and qualified yoga teacher. Furthermore, the yoga postures can be suitably modified to suit everyone. Once modified, everyone can practise yoga regardless of their age and physical abilities.
In this paper, we will specifically examine the impact of yoga on mental health. Meditation is said to have a positive impact on relaxing one’s mind. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), a part of the US Health and Human Sciences Department, meditation has a long history of use for enhancing calmness, facilitating physical relaxation, and improving one’s psychological balance among other things.
In 2014, the NCCIH conducted a literature review of 47 trials that involved 3,515 participants. The literature review reveals that the mindfulness meditation program showcase moderate evidence of having a positive impact on anxiety and depression. In a yet another study funded by the NCCIH, 54 adult participants suffering from chronic sleeplessness were taught mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), which is specially designed to deal with insomnia, and mindfulness-based therapy for insomnia (MBTI). Results revealed that both MBSR and MBTI helped in lessening the severity of insomnia. Dr. Josephine Briggs (M.D.), the director of the NCCIH, in one of her articles, mentions that there is some amount of clinical research evidence, which suggests that yoga can improve the quality of life, aid in reducing mental or psychological stress, and also improve some mental health outcomes.
In a research paper published in 2009 in the International Journal of Nursing Studies, research study was conducted on 139 participants, of which 128 completed the study. The participants were senior citizens in the age range of 60 and above. They were able to walk without assistance and had no previous training in yoga. The participants were randomly assigned to experimental and control groups. The participants in the experimental group were put on a 70-minute silver yoga program, which was implemented thrice a week for six months. The silver yoga program consisted of some warm-up poses to loosen the body, some gentle Hatha yoga exercises, and relaxation techniques. Results of the study revealed that most mental health indicators of the participants in the experimental group had improved considerably. The mental health indicators of these participants were better than those of the participants in the control group. After six months of practising silver yoga exercises, the sleep quality and health status of the participants in the experimental group improved. Additionally, the exercises had a positive impact on reducing depression.
Thus, it can be said that research studies have begun to showcase positive impact of various forms of yoga on improving one’s psychological and/or mental health. However, if you are facing a particular mental or psychological problem, we recommend that you see your physician and seek proper medical advice. If your physician permits you to take up exercises including yoga, we recommend you to practise yoga only under the guidance of a qualified teacher. If you are not facing any particular mental/psychological problem, you can include yoga in your lifestyle to improve your mental and physical health. Again, do so only under the guidance of well-trained teacher.
Chen, Kuei-Min, et al. "Sleep quality, depression state, and health status of older adults after silver yoga exercises: cluster randomized trial." International journal of nursing studies 46.2 (2009): 154-163.
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