In current times, with the ongoing stress, uncertainty and anxiety, managing a healthy lifestyle has become more difficult than ever. But don’t worry. Yoga is here to your rescue. Yoga (originated in India) focuses on the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of our body. Yoga is beneficial in keeping the body and mind in sound health. It has a holistic approach to health and well-being.
The Pandemic has affected everyone’s health in some or the other way. The patient as well as the family is affected not only physically but also the emotional health. Yoga is quite effective and helps to deal with these issues. It helps us to build psychological & physical health, emotional harmony and manage daily stress.
Every year International day of Yoga is celebrated on 21st June. This year the theme is “Yoga for Well-being”. The theme is very relevant in today’s time as the world is still reeling from the havoc caused by the pandemic. The United Nations in a statement said, “A growing trend of people around the world embracing Yoga to stay healthy and rejuvenated and to fight social isolation and depression has been witnessed during the pandemic. Yoga is also playing a significant role in the psycho-social care and rehabilitation of Covid-19 patients in quarantine and isolation. It is particularly helpful in allaying their fears and anxiety.”
Yoga Asanas that can help with mental health:
Setu bandhasana (Bridge Pose)
Bridge pose or setu bandhasana helps in improving blood circulation in the body. It can open the spine and heart, which will calm your mind and reduce stress levels.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Extend your arms along the floor, palms flat.
Press your feet and arms firmly into the floor. Exhale as you lift your hips toward the ceiling.
Draw your tailbone toward your pubic bone, holding your buttocks off the floor. Do not squeeze your glutes or flex your buttocks.
Roll your shoulders back and underneath your body. Clasp your hands and extend your arms along the floor beneath your pelvis. Straighten your arms as much as possible, pressing your forearms into the mat. Reach your knuckles toward your heels.
Keep your thighs and feet parallel — do not roll to the outer edges of your feet or let your knees drop together. Press your weight evenly across all four corners of both feet. Lengthen your tailbone toward the backs of your knees.
Hold for up to one minute. To release, unclasp your hands and place them palms-down alongside your body. Exhale as you slowly roll your spine along the floor, vertebra by vertebra. Allow your knees to drop together.
This is a meditative pose that is known to improve focus, calmness and digestion.
Slowly, begin by sitting on your knees, stretch your ankles outward, bring your thighs and calves together.
Then place your palms on your knees.
Breathe in and out deeply for 30 seconds to a minute.
This pose is also known as “the high lunge”. Doing the crescent variation of this exercise is known to help improve your blood flow, calm your mind.
While standing, lunge one leg forward.
Bend the front knee, make sure your knee is in line with your ankle, stretch your back leg.
Press your ankle flat against the ground on both ankles.
Raise your arms to the sky and connect your palms.
Breathe in deeply and breathe out in an even flow.
Repeat 5 times per leg.
Balasana (Child’s pose)
Balasana is beneficial for your lymphatic system and nervous system. It will calm your mind and release stress. It stretches your thighs, hips and ankles. It relieves neck and back pain.
Kneel down on the floor & sit on your buttocks. Keep your big toes touching each other.
Place your knees hip-width apart and inhale.
Now bend forward and exhale as you lay your torso between your thighs and swing your hands forward.
Hold this position for 2-3 minutes.
At last, breathe-in slowly and return to the starting position.
You can repeat it for 5 to 10 times
Another basic yoga pose, possibly the hardest one. This helps your digestion, spinal strength and improves calmness of the mind and also your mood. It helps keep your anxiety and depression at bay.
While sitting cross-legged, gently lift one ankle above your opposite thigh.
Place it as close to the hip as possible, do the same with the other ankle.
Place your palms on your knees, keep your back straight.
Breathe evenly for 30 seconds.
Inculcating these in your daily life will surely help and benefit you. While yoga is a great way to help manage mental health, it shouldn’t be considered as one and only solution for severe mental health issues. Use yoga along with therapy and if required, then medication. Consult your therapist for the best mental health treatment plan for you.
About the author:
Ruta Mhapankar is a Psychologist by profession and the Founder and Managing Director of Emotional Well-Being Mental Health Services (EWBMHS).