Living with Chronic Pain

Yoga and Mental Health


What is yoga?

Yoga is a gentle form of exercise therapy that involves meditation, deep breathing, and controlled physical movements. Research indicates that practicing yoga may reduce the impact of stress, help with anxiety and depression, and improve energy levels. The emphasis on deep breathing and stretching the body is beneficial for both physical and mental health.

Benefits of yoga

Yoga can improve overall health and well-being and help with physical and mental conditions, including the following:

  • Stress, anxiety or depression
  • Medical conditions, such as low back pain
  • Chronic pain

Yoga strengthens the mind-body connection. Practicing yoga on a regular basis seems to calm the stress response, reducing blood pressure, decreasing heart rate, and calming respiration. Studies show that yoga increases serotonin levels in the body, promoting overall well-being. Lower levels of serotonin are associated with anxiety and depression.

Styles of yoga

Various styles of yoga are practiced throughout the world. The type of yoga practiced is based on personal preference and individual needs. Some types of yoga are more gentle on the body than others. Hatha yoga is the most common yoga practiced in the United States. It involves gentle and deliberate poses, controlled breathing, and meditation.

Consulting a health care provider before engaging in a new type of exercise is recommended.

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