• What Can Yoga Do For Your Mental Health?

    by Dr. Hooman M. Melamed
    on Jul 13th, 2016

A recent story in Employee Benefits News Magazine reports that over 30% of all American workers believe that poor mental health is a leading contributor to their employee absenteeism and decreased productivity at work.  Further national statistics show that 25% of all adults will suffer from some form of mental illness each and every year.

As these numbers continue to escalate, Corporate America is taking notice and supporting their workforce by offering company-sponsored fitness programs and yoga classes.  In many cases, employees are even given extra time during their work day to participate and are often highly encouraged to do so.

Yoga and your Mental Health

Our mental and physical well-being are very closely linked.  Studies show that regular exercise helps to enhance emotional health, increase mental focus, and stabilize mood swings.  Body-mind fitness programs like yoga are particularly beneficial, as are high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and strength training programs.

Yoga is considered especially effective in managing several specific types of mental issues, including chronic depression, sleeping disorders, ADHD, and even schizophrenia.

Yoga is well documented to boost serotonin levels by positively influencing neurotransmitters in the brain.  This boost of serotonin acts as a natural antidepressant, helping to reduce stress, anxiety, aggression, and depression.  It also helps to increase mental focus and decrease impulsivity all at the same time.  Recent statistics show that employees who participate in yoga at least once per week test significantly higher in executive control tests, which directly translates to a more thoughtful and engaged employee.

A Calming Effect at the Cellular Level

Another study sponsored by the Institute of Science and Society (ISIS) shows that mind-body exercises like yoga, meditation, and HIIT can stop stress from negatively affecting individual cells within the body.  By altering our genetic expression through yoga, we not only feel stronger physically and emotionally, but we also help fight off disease and illness.  When the body is less stressed, it tends to break down and digest proteins more easily.
As the mental health benefits of yoga become more and more apparent, employers are beginning to offer these classes throughout the work day.  If you are fortunate enough to have a company-sponsored yoga class or fitness program, why not give it a try?  You’ll likely feel better physically, enjoy a more pleasant mental attitude, and maybe even gain some positive feedback from the boss because of your improved productivity at work.

Author Dr. Hooman M. Melamed

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