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Mental Health benefits of Yoga

Updated: Mar 14

Breakthrough Psychology Psychologist Nadine Smith practicing Yoga on the beach nasal breathing

Yoga for Mental Health: A Powerful Addition to Your Wellness Routine

Yoga can be described as an ancient group of practices that focus on uniting the mind, body and spirit. This may involve certain asanas (postures), pranayama (breath-work) and meditation. The origins of yoga can be traced back 5,000 years to India, with the earliest form understood to be Hatha yoga.

Yoga asana’s and breath-work practices have been widely adopted internationally and developed into many new branches. Some other forms of yoga now practised include:

  • Iyengar

  • Vinyasa flow and

  • Yin

Research into yoga has found many physical and mental benefits from regular practice.

Benefits of yoga asana’s:

Asana’s are physical postures carefully chosen to increase physical strength and flexibility. Studies have found that regular practice of asana’s can be beneficial in improving sleep, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. Additionally, yoga may aid in achieving weight loss or maintaining a healthy body weight.

While engaging in yoga asana’s individuals are encouraged to sync the movement and breath and bring attention to the present moment. This is suggested to help the nervous system shift to ‘rest and digest’ mode promoting relaxation and restoration. Research into the impact of yoga on improving mental health found that practice can help improve symptoms of anxiety, depression, and trauma.

Benefits of pranayama:

Pranayama encompasses many breath-work practices, such as yogic breathing (deep breaths), alternate nostril breathing and humming breath. Research suggests alternate nostril breathing may help decrease blood pressure and heart rate when practised daily. Deep yogic breathing is also suggested to lower cortisol levels and enhance melatonin levels.

Benefits of meditation:

The benefits of meditation are widely studied, and yoga offers many opportunities to practice focused attention, observing and detaching from thoughts and feelings. Research suggests focused attention meditation may help reduce stress, improve attention and focus, and cultivate gratitude and self-compassion.

Integration in psychology

My yoga training has allowed me to learn more about the benefits of breath-work and meditation in managing symptoms of anxiety and stress. In sessions, I encourage noticing current patterns of breathing and practice slow or paced, diaphragmatic breathing to manage anxiety, panic and stress. I also enjoy teaching present moment mindfulness to help individuals ground in the present moment and notice incoming thoughts and feelings without getting attached to them.

If you're intrigued to learn more about Nadine's holistic approach to mental health, or perhaps even book a session with her, visit our booking page, or contact the practice to see how we can support you. Join us in taking the next step towards a healthier mind and body!

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