Young active man with outstretched legs side-bending with left arm raised while working out in gym

Mental illnesses in various forms have been a major health burden globally in recent years. Unhealthy lifestyles, poor eating habits and a rise in work-related stress are contributing to the rising incidences of anxiety and depression.

Using drugs to treat anxiety and depression are effective but offer only symptomatic relief. Long-term intake of drugs often leads to dependence without preventing further illness or providing a comprehensive solution to improving mental health. People suffering from poor mental health can reap rich and long-term benefits by adopting the ancient Indian practice of Yoga in their daily lives. Yoga helps maintain good mental and physical health, harmonizing your body and mind and restoring emotional balance.

Yoga adopts a scientific approach of exercising and relaxing to ease the stress of modern day living. It also contributes to improving memory, sleep and even quality of life in elderly persons with mild memory impairment.

These poses will help improve mental health, along with other health benefits:

Shashankasana or child’s pose: This asana stimulates your nervous system thereby re-energizing your whole body. It is basically a resting pose resembling a child in fetal position, performed by sitting down on the knees and then bending forward so that the chest touches the thighs, and the forehead touches the ground. Stretch the arms forward. If performed with precision, it should offer a sense of mental, physical, and emotional comfort. Like most yoga asanas, this should be performed on an empty stomach or at least six hours after a meal. (People suffering from high blood pressure and back pain should consider avoiding this asana.)

Vipareetakaraniasana: This inverted pose is one of the best yoga asanas for improving blood circulation towards the head. It helps to calm anxiety, treat depression and insomnia, and helps regulate blood flow. It can be performed by lying down flat on your back. Keep the legs together. While inhaling raise the legs, buttocks and the trunk and support the hips on the palm. The trunk is held at a 45 degrees angle to the ground. Breathe normally. To return, lower the legs over the head and keep the hands down while exhaling. Bring the spine and the legs down.

Hasta Utthanasana: This pose is considered therapeutic for people suffering from high blood pressure, asthma, sinusitis, infertility and osteoporosis. It also helps to relieve mild depression and beat insomnia. To perform this pose, stand straight; raise your hands from the front to above your head as you inhale slowly. Bend backwards from the upper back and maintain the position, breathing normally.

Shavasana: This pose is typically performed at the end of yoga routines and helps boost mental health and relaxes the body. Lie flat on your back, keeping the body straight and hands at your sides with palms facing upwards. Close your eyes and hold the position for at least five minutes. Even pregnant women can practice this asana as it will help them prevent prenatal depression.

It should be noted that the above-mentioned yogic practices are to be learned in a gradual manner under the supervision of a yoga expert. Yoga enables a practitioner to expand their mental faculties and achieve a greater acceptance of self and others, which ultimately leads to a calmer approach to life.

Source: Economic Times

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