Yoga and Mental Health
Types of Yoga
Life is full of different stressors, whether you’re a student, working adult, and much more. And conveniently enough, a great way to release this pent up stress is through yoga, a term that originated from India over 2,000 years ago. Some of the different kinds of yoga are listed below:
Restorative yoga emphasizes more on meditation and is specifically meant to slow down and relax the body. People active in this kind of yoga focus on remaining in yoga poses, or asana, for 5-20 minutes each, paying special attention to their breathing. It doesn’t require a lot of movement and according to a meta-study conducted in 2019 on the impacts of different kinds of yoga, restorative yoga has been shown to result in better sleep, reduced stress, improved well-being, and reduced musculoskeletal pain.
Hatha yoga is known as “the yoga of force” and has deep origins in Indian culture. It consists of slow, controlled movements that involve asana (yoga poses), mantra (chanting/reciting), pranayama (breathing techniques), mudra (hand techniques), shatkriyas, and shatkarmas (cleansing techniques). Through practicing this kind of yoga, people hope to channel more of their spiritual energy and engage in good mind-body health. According to a study by the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, practicing hatha yoga can reduce anxiety and depression, establish mindfulness, improve sleep, and more.
Vinyasa yoga is known to be the exact opposite of hatha yoga as it primarily focuses on a “flow” of movements that synchronizes with the breath. It allows for participants to partake in a variety of different poses that allow for more movement compared to some other forms of yoga, increasing heart rate and improving flexibility. Additionally, this type of yoga is also known to reduce stress, risks of anxiety/depression, and improve moods on top of all the physical benefits vinyasa yoga comes with.
Bikram yoga falls under the category of hot yoga, which is yoga done in a sauna-like setting. Specifically, for Bikram yoga, a room is heated up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit that increases the intensity of the workout for participants. Hot yoga is considered to be more lax compared to Bikram yoga, as Bikram yoga takes place in a quieter, more serious setting. Some benefits of participating in this kind of yoga is that it burns more calories compared to traditional yoga due to the hot environment, and according to the American Psychology Association, has also been shown to reduce depressive symptoms. The excessive sweating that comes along with it also can help improve circulation and nourish skin, but it’s important to drink lots of water while participating in hot yoga to avoid dehydration!
At the end of the day, no matter what kind of yoga someone chooses to participate in, they all come with different kinds of benefits when it comes to both physical and mental health. It all boils down to personal preference on what a person wants to focus on, whether it’s their spirituality, flexibility, or stamina. There is always more to discover when it comes to yoga, and only through experience can someone truly learn the wonders that this form of exercise offers.
Author: Ellen Zulkarnain
Ellen Zulkarnain is an 18-year-old student at Irvington High School, who is super passionate about mental health and helping others. She has volunteered at a local kitten shelter and tutored children with special needs. She excitedly wishes to expand her service to the mental health industry by contributing to this blog. In her spare time, she loves putting together puzzles, playing with her dog, Mars, and spending time with her friends. We hope you enjoy her contributions.