4 ways yoga improves your mental health

by Daniela Baicoianu, BA (Hons) Public Relations

Have you ever thought yourself a yogi after having only done a few random YouTube videos? I did. Soon enough I started to realise I had no idea what I was doing. I slowly became frustrated with my level of flexibility or total lack of it. I had pushed my body over its limits too many times, holding poses I was completely unprepared for.  So 12 months on I decided to join the university’s yoga society.

This is what I’ve learnt:

  1. Practising yoga in the morning awakes my body and mind

Yes, we all want our coffee first and most of the time we need to run to be on time for that meeting or lecture. I totally get it. If you can’t set aside 10-15 min for your practice, keep it for the evening, it’s always beneficial for a good night sleep.

Mornings work well for me. It is the perfect time to check-in with my body, making sure everything feels right, stretch those legs and allow my mind to be inundated with thoughts. However, it is very good to shut them down and stay connected to my breath. I set a couple of positive intentions for the day and I remind myself that I am strong.

  1. I feel more patient with myself and people around me

I am a person who likes to stay busy, to juggle both university and job, to stay active and to plan everything ahead. On the other hand, if things don’t go as planned, my anxiety kicks in.

Yoga doesn’t change people overnight, but over time it’s helped me better manage my anxiety and stay cool when everything else gets heated. I don’t do any warrior poses to fight obstacles, but I always go back to the intentions I set myself in the morning. There is no better feeling than looking back and realising how much we’ve changed for the better.

  1. Yoga can be social

At the beginning, I wasn’t brave enough to join a public yoga class being afraid of making a fool of myself. I took my time and now I am part of the Yoga Society. It feels great to share the passion for this practice with others. I found that people’s support makes it feel less uncomfortable. It is a kind reminder that our goal shouldn’t be to hold Instagrammable poses, but to enjoy this journey and your mental health will thank you later.

  1. Yoga improved my posture

What does the posture have to do with mental health? I wasn’t aware until recently that a good posture affects your attitude, behaviour and the way you feel in your own body. Growing up, I wasn’t the girl with a perfect straight back and this weakened my back muscles and confidence.

Within the yoga practice you engage these muscles and you tell yourself how nice and tall your spine should be. Until a few months ago, I would always wait for my parents or friends to tell me to straighten my back, but now I do it unconsciously. I also feel different, more positive and I feel more confident to voice.

You can find more about the Yoga society here