As a mental health provider, you are constantly working to give your clients the best possible care. Sometimes, that means including other disciplines, besides psychology into the mix. One such discipline, that has proven to be outrageously effective in improving mental health, is yoga.
Yoga is helpful for so many reasons, we almost can’t pick which ones to mention! However, we’ve cherry-picked a few of our favorites, and explained them in a way that you might use with your clients.
Yoga Reduces Anxiety And Aids In Stress Relief
Studies have shown that practicing yoga modulates the stress response system, both psychologically and physically. Practitioners of yoga, not only perceive events in a less anxious way, but they also enjoy bodily changes, such as: decreased heart rate, decreased blood pressure, and easier breathing, which, in turn, lead to a more relaxed state.
Yoga Helps You Reconnect With Forgotten Parts Of Yourself
By doing yoga, you encounter challenges, and you get a chance to see how you respond to these obstacles. In the words of Carl Jung, you encounter your shadow self, the part of yourself that you would rather keep hidden. Yet, it is precisely through uncovering these dormant properties that you are able to heal.
Yoga Increases Self-Esteem
In yoga, being able to do different poses is only part of the effort. The real work comes in the relationship that you are building with your body. As you continue to practice, you learn to be more gentle and compassionate with yourself, and this in turn improves the way that you feel about yourself overall. And yes, finally mastering a pose that you’ve had trouble with doesn’t hurt either.
Yoga Builds A Sense Of Mastery Over Your Own Circumstances
One of the greatest things about yoga is that it teaches you the connection between things that you do and how these things make you feel. For example, taking a longer exhale will make you feel more relaxed, whereas, taking a longer inhale, will increase your level of energy. Making simple adjustments like this helps you to recognize the power that you have over your own body. It also gives you some tools to use when you feel anxious or depressed.
Yoga Teaches You How To Sit With Discomfort
Note: This may be the single biggest reason to prescribe yoga for your clients, as learning to sit with uncomfortable feelings is such a HUGE part of therapy.
Doing yoga helps you sit (both literally and figuratively), in ways that are uncomfortable. In fact, one study, done at the University of Utah, compared 12 yogis, 14 people with fibromyalgia (an illness that is associated with high pain sensitivity), and 16 healthy volunteers, to find out whether doing yoga had an effect on pain sensitivity. Sure enough, while the people with fibromyalgia turned out to respond to pain at a lower level, the yogis were not affected by pain until a higher threshold was reached. Accordingly, MRI’s showed less activity in the pain-centered areas of the yogi’s brains. This means that doing yoga actually changes the way that you perceive and respond to uncomfortable situations, and it changes your brain too!
So, yes, prescribe yoga for your clients, and maybe try it for yourself too!
It just so happens that an upcoming event here at Therapy Hive, is to preview a local yoga studio that features an “Overcoming Anxiety,” workshop. Contact us to learn more about this and other exciting programs and events!