Yoga instructor Jolene Cherry talks about yoga for mental wellness

Yoga integrates meditation and mindfulness into your fitness routine, simultaneously improving the health of your body and mind. The practice of yoga can relieve anxiety, depression and modify your response to high stress situations. Yoga is an effective way to improve your overall health while promoting mental well-being.

For most of his adult life, Jolene Cherry has used yoga training as the foundation of her personal and professional life. As an Oregon-based yoga instructor, she has witnessed the positive impact the practice of yoga has on improving the daily lives and well-being of her clients.

Below, Jolene Cherry highlights some of the positive side effects yoga creates for mental wellness.

Stress reduction

Stress and anxiety can be controlled by incorporating yoga into your daily routine. Low levels of GABA, a chemical linked to depression and anxiety, can make it difficult to slow down thoughts and calm down. Yoga increases GABA levels, effectively improving mood and the body’s ability to regulate stress and nervous feelings. Yoga has been shown to be more effective at increasing GABA than other forms of exercise.

Fight or flight response to the challenge

Yoga shows a correlation with calming the nervous system by teaching you to stay in control and carefully assess stress. The nervous system controls your fight-or-flight response or your body’s natural reaction to situations of extreme stress. Many people find it difficult to come out of this response and feel tense or wired around the clock. Yoga practice requires intense concentration as you hold poses, change positions, and breathe deeply. Regular, deep breaths are essential to enter rest and digestion mode. Yoga also encourages you to gain a deeper understanding of your thoughts and emotions through meditation. Exercise, deep breathing, and meditation are all treatments to reduce the tendency to frequently resort to a fight-or-flight stress response.

Mindfulness and Meditation

Many yoga practices incorporate mindfulness and meditation into their routines. Mindfulness is the process of appreciating and being fully aware of any present moment. Taking a break from stressful thoughts and responsibilities allows you to decompress and enjoy life. As you move forward, you may be able to improve your mood by practicing mindfulness throughout the day. Meditation draws your attention inside your emotions and thoughts. Becoming more aware of your inner self is the first step towards improvement. You will gain the ability to assess and understand negative thoughts without rushing or becoming anxious. Meditation and mindfulness often lead to a more peaceful mental outlook.

Learn to appreciate yourself

Yoga can also increase your self-confidence by teaching you to enjoy travel. Slow, steady movements allow you to notice everything that goes into doing a task. Small improvements and sticking to a yoga routine will boost your confidence and show that you are capable of progress.

Improve sleep patterns

Insomnia can lead to fatigue, irritability, and decreased mental health. People who practice yoga have a greater ability to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep through the night. Getting a full night’s sleep will make your body and mind feel better. If you have trouble falling asleep, a relaxing yoga routine before bed can help your body prepare for sleep.

Yoga doesn’t just improve your fitness and bodily health. Incorporating yoga into your daily routine can lead to drastic improvements in your mental health and happiness. Yoga decreases anxiety and teaches your body how to enter rest and digestion mode to deal with stress. Most yoga routines involve the practice of meditation and mindfulness, so that you learn to appreciate life’s little moments and feel comfortable with your inner thoughts. Improving your sleep patterns and boosting your confidence will also improve your mood and mental well-being.

About Jolene Cherry:

Jolene Cherry is a certified and experienced yoga instructor and personal trainer based in Portland, Oregon. She believes that finding balance in life is the key to well-being and aims to help her clients achieve this balance through physical activity, mindfulness and healthy eating. As an avid traveler, she has received yoga training all over the world and excels in a variety of yoga styles, especially Vinyasa Yoga, Traditional Ashtanga Yoga, Power Yoga, as well as Yin Yoga focused on meditation.