The spread of Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown across the country has affected all aspects of life, with a marked increase in mental health issues. In fact, many people, especially celebs, have turned to yoga for relief. And if all those celeb pictures, too, haven’t yet inspired you to take up yoga, today’s the day!
Not only is yoga widely practised as a form of workout, it also helps keep stress levels in check. “Yoga, meditation and other stress-relieving practices have long been studied as complementary treatments for mental-health problems. It has become popular in recent decades and more so after the pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns. Practising yoga can reduce the impact of stress responses, and can be helpful for both anxiety and mild depression. By reducing the degree of perceived stress and anxiety, yoga modulates the body’s stress response systems. This, in turn, reduces physiological arousal by lowering the heart rate, blood pressure, and improving respiration,” says Dr Rajeev Rajesh, chief yoga officer at a Bengaluru-based naturopathy institute.
Studies have shown that yoga and mindfulness meditation significantly reduces activity in the brain’s default mode network, which is responsible for daydreaming and mind-wandering thoughts. This network is responsible for decreased happiness, rumination, and unnecessary worry about the past and the future. “Meditation helps you snap out of this network, improving your outlook and mental well-being. It also reduces symptoms of anxiety, depression, and pain. Another study found that yoga and mindfulness meditation leads to increased cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which plays an important role in consolidating both short and long term memory.” adds Pratap Dash, a senior yoga teacher.
When stressed out, we are often advised to take a long, deep breath. This thought originates from the fact that mindful breathing helps tackle stress. “Practising breathing exercises regularly helps stimulate the lymphatic system, improves blood flow and calms down the mind,” says Dr Pankaj Gupta, professor in mindfulness at a university in Jaipur.
Prakriti Poddar, a mental health expert, recommends, “Uttanasana or standing forward-bend pose, Anjaneyasana or the high lunge, Garudasana or the eagle pose, Shavasana or corpse pose, Viparita karani or legs up the wall pose, Natarajasana or the dancer pose, and Virabhadrasana or the warrior pose are beneficial to stay calm and positive.”
“Start your day with Surya Namaskar. If you feel tired during the day, Sarvangasana (shoulder stand), Ustrasana (camel pose), Bhujangasana (snake pose), Ardha Matsyendrasana (half-fish pose) and Natarajasana are ideal for an energy boost. Pranayamas relieve anxiety and build stamina in the lungs. Inverted yoga poses can help circulate fluid through the lymphatic system and filter out the toxins from your body,” suggests Dr Rajesh.
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