There is a thriving body of analysis to back up yoga’s mental health benefits. Yoga increases body consciousness, relieves stress, decreases muscle tension, strain, and swelling, sharpens attention and concentration, and calms and focuses on the nervous system.
Yoga’s positive gains on mental health have made it an urgent practice tool of psychotherapy (American Psychological Association). It has been shown to enhance human well being through a sense of relating to others, and improve the symptoms of depression, attention deficit and hyperactivity, and sleep disorders. Also, yoga can improve indications of schizophrenia when it is done adjacent to drug therapy (Yoga and Mental Health, Huffington Post 2013).
Plus, yoga has been shown to enhance the level of gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, a chemical in the brain that helps to control nerve activity. This is especially relevant to people who have anxiety dysfunctions in which GABA activity is weak (Yoga and Your Mood, the Ultimate Yogi).
Yoga also elevates the mood, behavior, and mindfulness of high school students taking yoga sessions in addition to PE than students taking PE alone (yoga classes help highschool students). It has been shown to improve workplace well-being and resilience (The Effectiveness of Yoga for Well Being in the Workplace). Yoga stretches for the lower back muscles also improves flexibility and reduces pain.
But, let’s not stop here. Yoga’s advantages extend to adult caregivers who experience lower life satisfaction, depression, and stress and high levels of biological markers for inflammation. One study found that practicing a 12-minute daily eight-week program of yoga exercise resulted in decreasing markers of swelling in adults taking care of loved ones stricken with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia (UCLA’s Late-Life Depress, Stress, and Wellness Research Program).