When it comes to your mental health there are numerous benefits to practicing yoga.
There is more and more research coming out that shows gentle movement, mindfulness, & meditation can significantly improve your mental health.
It can often feel daunting though when we think about the word practice.
Starting a yoga practice doesn't have to be an hour long movement every day or sitting in an uncomfortable meditation seat for hours.
In fact, when you are currently experiencing anxiety or depression you probably don't want to do much of anything. But you can still try yoga and receive the numerous benefits without having to do an extensive practice.
How exactly do we do this?
1) Keep it gentle & simple - There is no need to force yourself into uncomfortable poses or even do everything the teacher shares. Maybe for you a yoga practice is 10 minutes or 5 minutes in the morning of gentle stretching. It can even be laying in bed noticing your breath.
2) Try not to push away uncomfortable emotions - If you notice that you are doing yoga or meditation & a heavy emotion arises, instead of pushing it away, notice the emotion or thought. Try not to analyze it, but recognize it as a thought not a fact. Breathe into the sensations. Notice how it feels in the body. Pay attention to the experience.
3) Legs up the wall (Viparita Karani) - This is a very therapeutic pose that releases tension & stress. It lowers blood pressure & may help to relief symptoms of depression or anxiety. You can try this against a wall or drape your legs over the back of the couch. Inversions are very healing!
Most importantly, remember that when you struggle with your mental health you don't have to do an extravagant practice. Keep it small & simple. Start with baby steps.
Yoga is about breath. If you slow down & pay attention to what is happening, you are strengthening your brain, heart, & body.
One minute of mindfulness every day will make a HUGE difference.
Observe the colors of the sunset, feel the gentle breeze on your skin, or smell the fresh rain outside.
The hardest step is showing up. But once you show up, you've already done the work.
You've got this!