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How does yoga influence emotions?

Yoga: Helping To Heal and Balance Emotions

Yoga is a body, mind, and spirit practice. The word yoga means, to “yoke”, unite, or join together “at the roots”. In layman’s terms, yoga is the bringing together of every aspect of the person, and also bringing the practitioner to a place of oneness with all of existence. So when we speak of health, in yogic philosophy, we are speaking of complete health, body, mind, and emotions.

 Yoga aims to place its practitioners into a meditative state, only focusing on the present moment, not the past or the future. In yoga, neither the past nor the future exists. There is only Now. So there is nothing else to consider. Since the 70’s, meditation and other methods of reducing stress have proven to have positive effects on depression and anxiety, and have been thought to be possible effective treatments. It is beneficial that the physical practice of yoga can be done in many different forms; from relaxing slow movements, to a more strenuous and vigorous style. There is a method of yoga practice for everyone, in spite of their physical abilities or disabilities.

 Because yoga is a practice that just about everyone can participate in, it is available to those with emotional challenges and illnesses, no matter their physical circumstance. According to many reviews of what yoga can do for the physical body, yoga practice, if done consistently, can lessen the body’s responses to extreme stress; therefore, it may alleviate some symptoms of anxiety and depression. By assisting in reducing levels of stress and anxiety, yoga then helps to balance our stress response systems, which decreases our physiological responses. These physiological responses are the ones that usually raise our heart rate and blood pressure.

 A 2005 German study on the effects of yoga, included 113 participants who had admitted to dealing with high stress and anxiety, major depression, and even bipolar disorders. These willing participants were all patients of New Hampshire Psychiatric Hospital. All of the participants agreed to take one yoga class, and after that single yoga class, tension, stress, anxiety, anger, and fatigue, were reported to have significantly decreased. This decrease was measured by the Profile of Mood States, which is a 65 item questionnaire the participants answered before and after the yoga session.

 Women who participated in a three-month yoga study also reported decreases in perceived stresses, anxiety, fatigue, and depression. Of course, anyone dealing with deep emotional issues and illnesses should always seek medical attention. No one is suggesting to use yoga as a replacement for medical and psychiatric help; but instead as a supplement to any ongoing treatments one may be receiving.

 As was stated in the beginning, yoga is about unity and wholeness, not exclusion; it aims to treat the entire person, body, mind, and spirit.