The Benefits of Therapeutic Yoga in Mental Health Treatment
Yoga is a 3,000-year-old tradition, and now regarded as one of the Top 10 Complementary Health Approaches with over 13 million adults in the U.S. practicing. This mind and body practice has ancient beginnings and is combined with physical postures, breathing techniques, meditation, and relaxation.
Often used for health purposes, mind-body fitness helps to promote strength, endurance, and flexibility, and sustained practice leads to changes in life-perspective, self-awareness, and an improved sense of energy to live life to the fullest. Research has shown yoga to be beneficial in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), schizophrenia, and has also proved helpful in relieving anxiety and depression symptoms. Mental health professionals also see yoga making a positive impact on parts of the mind and body susceptible to addiction, as yoga positively boosts the neurotransmitter GABA, which is statistically low in those suffering from substance abuse, anxiety, and depression. Physically, yoga is often used to treat back pain, heart conditions, chronic fatigue, and multiple sclerosis.
In treating specific mental health disorders, yoga therapy can complement other forms of treatment and can range from simple to advance. Practiced in a wide range of formats, and unlike standard yoga classes, yoga therapy sessions are conducted one-on-one or in small group settings.
At Pasadena Villa Outpatient Center, our Therapeutic Yoga Instructor, Leigh Ann Browne, uses yoga, as a way to help people get in touch with their bodies and begin to understand the mind-body connection. Before starting each yoga therapy group as part of the treatment program, Leigh Ann conducts a needs assessment to identify any health problems, recent injuries, and physical capabilities, allowing her to tailor each session to meet the group’s specific needs.
During each therapeutic yoga group, Leigh Ann uses self-discovery, insight, and practical coping skills to empower clients to not only increase mental and physical strength but to embrace their best selves. Therapy sessions often include the following components:
- Breathing Exercises: A series of breathing exercises ranging from energizing breaths to balancing breaths.
- Physical Postures: Proper yoga poses to address problem areas. For example, laying on the back with legs positioned up against the wall helps with anxiety and insomnia.
- Meditation: When combined with yoga, relaxation and mindfulness are the focus of meditation.
- Guided Imagery: With the intention of bringing inner peace, the therapist tries to calm the body and mind through a guided visualization.
Yoga postures should be changed based on an individual’s ability, and having a certified yoga therapist, such as Leigh Ann, is a crucial step in practicing yoga safely. In combination with evidence-based therapies, Leigh Ann uses yoga to help lead clients with addictive behaviors towards more respectful, caring, and loving practices. “It is important for good mental health to be able to slow down and fact check what your body and mind is telling you rather than simply being reactive. Using yoga as part of a customized treatment program helps our clients implement healthy changes during recovery, and will stay with them once they leave treatment,” she says.
Your mental health is equally important as your physical health. If you or a loved one have questions regarding a mental illness, seek guidance from a mental health provider that is right for you. You do not have to face this challenge alone, Pasadena Villa Outpatient – Raleigh can help. Call us at 877-845-5235 or complete our contact form to help with the next steps of treatment. Pasadena Villa Psychiatric Network Services currently offers treatment at two residential locations in both Orlando, Florida and Knoxville, Tennessee, and outpatient services in Raleigh, North Carolina.