Doing yoga online does more for you than just helping to stay active … the mental health benefits are countless!
A spotlight on mental health during the 2021 Tokyo Olympics (finally!)
A few weeks ago, the whole world was waiting for Simone Biles to make headlines at the Tokyo Olympics for winning all of the medals (like, really, all of them) in the gymnastics competition.
The Tokyo Olympics are now officially behind us, and Biles did make headlines… but not for the reasons everyone was expecting.
Sure, she secured one silver medal in the team all-around competition and one bronze for her individual performance on the balance beam, but that wasn’t her biggest victory in Tokyo. Instead, the GOAT’s greatest accomplishment was drawing attention to the importance of caring for one’s mental health. When she grew concerned that her mental health challenges might put her safety on the line and risk medals for her teammates, she withdrew from the gymnastics events that pretty much everyone figured she would dominate.
“We also have to focus on ourselves, because at the end of the day, we’re human, too. So, we have to protect our mind and our body, rather than just go out there and do what the world wants us to do,” Biles told USA Today.
This trailblazing move may have done wonders for revealing the pressures put on athletes to perform, but it has also pushed a larger conversation about mental health to the forefront of our collective attention — for non-athletes, as well!
If the Simone Biles news has inspired you to more closely observe your stress and anxiety levels — and, more importantly, to combat them — you’re probably looking for ways to take better care of your mental health going forward.
Fitness and yoga have both been proven effective for improving mental health!
What is mental health?
Before we go any further, let’s get super clear on what we’re talking about when we talk about mental health.
According to MedlinePlus, “mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act as we cope with life. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood and aging.”
Being mindful of our mental health allows us to better cope with stress, take better care of our physical health, maintain positive relationships with others, perform well at work, and to generally be our best selves.
Clearly, mental health plays a role in pretty much everything we do — and during every chapter of our lives. It’s about time it takes center stage!
Your mental health is affected by many factors, including genetics, trauma, a family history of mental illness, and lifestyle choices. Diet and physical activity can cause mental health to deteriorate, but it can also lead to mental health improvements.
That’s where fitness and yoga come in.
Fitness for mental health
Poor mental health often manifests as anxiety and depression, both of which can be improved with physical exercise, per the Mayo Clinic.
Exercise has been proven to release feel-good endorphins that enhance your sense of well-being. Physical exertion also forces you to focus on what your body is doing instead of what your brain is worrying about. This is why you might find yourself feeling like you’ve gotten a break from a cycle of negative thoughts after a good workout. It’s helpful to get out of that mental loop!
Additionally, regular physical activity has been known to improve mental health because it inspires increased confidence, offers you opportunities to interact with others, and gives you a healthy outlet for stress and anxiety.
For anyone who wants to reap the mental health benefits of exercise, experts recommend at least 30 minutes of activity a day, three to five days a week. But many kinds of activities can do the trick! It’s all about choosing a type of exercise that you enjoy so that you’ll commit to it on a regular basis. According to Men’sHealth, the toughest step to make is the first one … but it’s usually the most rewarding!
Yoga is one excellent option — not only because it has its own set of mental health benefits, but also because you can take online yoga classes whenever and wherever you’d like so that you can experience a boost in your mental health no matter the circumstances. We’re big fans of power yoga and cardio yoga for mental health, in particular.
Yoga for mental health
If working out, in general, is good for your mental health, yoga takes it to another level. Online power yoga classes like the ones we offer via bulldog online have many health benefits, many of which will help you minimize the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges.
Here are some of the special benefits of yoga and power yoga for your mental health, according to Healthline:
Doing yoga online and staying fit can decrease stress.
We’ve already covered the role that stress plays in mental health, but there are plenty of studies to support yoga’s stress-busting qualities. In one study, women who perceived themselves as emotionally distressed had significantly lower levels of stress, anxiety, fatigue, depression, and cortisol after a three-month yoga program.
Other studies show that adding a meditation practice to a yoga routine can go even further in fighting stress.
Yoga reduces anxiety.
Studies about people dealing with anxiety and trying out yoga demonstrate similar results to the stress studies recapped above. After integrating yoga into their routine, people who experience anxiety reported feeling less anxious than people who didn’t get on the yoga mat.
Experts aren’t totally sure why yoga helps with anxiety, but many of them suspect that it has to do with the way yoga — even faster-paced power yoga! — encourages practitioners to stay focused and present in the moment.
Staying fit improves quality of life.
“Quality of life” may seem like a vague measurement, but the researchers are studying it, so you know it’s legit.
Based on a variety of measures, quality of life is better for yogis. Naturally, this has a positive impact on mental health.
Routine exercise may fight depression.
According to some studies, yoga can have an antidepressant effect and decrease the symptoms of depression. Experts attribute this to the fact that yoga reduces levels of cortisol in the body. Many of the feelings you experience when you’re depressed are triggered by the stress hormone, cortisol.
In fact, medical professionals will often suggest yoga as part of a larger program for managing clinical depression and improving overall mental health.
Yoga promotes sleep quality.
Anyone who’s ever been sleep deprived knows that it’s really hard to feel like your mental health is in good order when you’re tired. Harvard Health confirms that sleep problems can amplify mental health challenges.
Yoga has been proven to help people fall asleep faster, stay asleep for longer periods of time, and feel more rested when they wake up. This is believed to be the result of increased melatonin levels after a yoga workout.
Staying active encourages healthy eating habits.
When you’re making good lifestyle choices all around, you just feel better, right?
A healthy diet is crucial in staying mentally and physically fit. Studies have found that yoga’s emphasis on mindfulness leads practitioners to make more intentional choices about what they put in their bodies, which, in turn, boosts their mental health.
The power of music for your mental health
If you’ve ever taken one of our cardio yoga workout classes, you already know that setting our fitness-fueled yoga flows to an awesome soundtrack is a top priority around here. We’re not into that zen quiet yoga vibe. Nope — we prefer to rock it out on our mats to the tune of Cardi B, John Mayer, Madonna, Hamilton, and everything in between.
This music makes yoga more fun (duh), but it also helps your workout work even harder for your mental health.
AARP cites research from the Global Council on Brain Health that connects music and brain health. Many regions of the brain that are connected to positive feelings are activated when listening to music. Researchers found that listening to music increases dopamine and oxytocin (chemicals that are linked to feelings of pleasure and love) while decreasing levels of cortisol.
Music is especially good for your mental health when it helps you connect to happy memories from the past. Since our power yoga classes are set to tracks that you’ll recognize from your real life, it’s only a matter of time before you find yourself hitting a Warrior I to the sound of a song that takes you right back to a favorite moment.
Superstar athletes and yoga
Simone Biles is now a hero to everyone — athletes and non-athletes alike — for amplifying the conversation about mental health. We hope that she has some yoga in her routine to help her feel her best post-Olympics. Maybe some online yoga classes would do the trick?
Many top athletes have been quite open about their love for yoga. When the benefits are this great, it makes you want to shout it from the rooftops! Here are a few names you might recognize…
- Maria Sharapova
- Aaron Rodgers
- Hope Solo
- LeBron James
- Kevin Love
- Evelyn Stevens
- Shaquille O’Neal
- Alex Morgan
- Ray Lewis
- Russell Wilson
- Rebecca Soni
- Tom Brady
- Kevin Garnett
- Kevin Durant
- David Beckham
It should hardly come as a surprise that so many hardcore athletes use yoga to help them prepare for the stresses of competition. (It doesn’t hurt that cardio yoga is also an amazing workout.)
Are you ready to see how yoga can positively impact your mental health? Of course you are! Life is stressful, and we all need as many outlets as possible for our anxieties and, well, feelings.
Grab a yoga mat, get moving, and reap the benefits of fitness-fueled yoga for your mental health.
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