Expert Readings: Yoga & Mental Health

Yoga Impacts Brain Chemistry

Yoga… sends a message through the spinal cord back to your brain that causes your brain chemistry to change. That ‘feel-good’ sensation after yoga practice arises from the balance of stimulation and relaxation you are providing your brain. “You are stimulating your pituitary gland to release endorphins. Your peripheral glandular system is producing adrenaline and norepenephrin-type compounds that travel to the brain and give you that mild stimulating effect… [And] you are also stimulating a relaxation response.” (Dharma Singh Khalsa, MD) – Amy Weintraub

Self-Examination & Managing Thoughts are Key Aspects of Recovery

Regardless of your diagnosis, self-examination is going to be an integral aspect of your recovery. When you gently encourage your body and mind to go beyond its previous limits, as in practicing more advanced postures or increasing your meditation time, you discover strengths inside yourself you might no have known exited. This newfound strength can empower you to make unprecedented changes in your life.  With yoga and especially meditation, part of the goal is always to control your thoughts… With successive practice, you learn to recognize negative or destructive thoughts and consciously to replace them with something more positive… Medical research confirms yoga’s effectiveness for anxiety and depression. – Larry Payne PhD & Richard Usatine MD

Meditation Techniques Enable Direct & Objective Observation of the Mind

In modern psychology, the mental field has most often been studied indirectly by making inferences about mental functioning through observing outward behavior. Unfortunately, this methodology tends to lead away from the mind toward a preoccupation with the behavior being studied. By contrast, in yoga psychology, the minNerd is studied directly through a special kind of introspection… An untrained mind which tries to look at itself will become involved in the thought processes it is trying to observe… Methods of meditation have been developed which provide a means of objectively observing the mind without becoming caught up in the train of thoughts. – Himalayan Institute

Present Moment Awareness is Closely Related to Anxiety & Depression

As a client once commented testily, “I don’t have the time or luxury to get all Zen about my depression.” But because of its close relationship to anxiety and depression present moment awareness isn’t as my client, implied, a New Age concept. Emotional balance has a lot to do with how centered we are in the body and how closely we pay attention to what’s happening right now, in the moment. – Bo Forbes PsyD