What is Yoga ?
Yoga means "union". The union of mind, body & spirit that creates perfect balance and allows us to flow through life feeling confident, content and at ease.
To understand what Yoga is and how it can be used as a tool for overall well-being we will look at two components of the yogic philosophy: the 5 Koshas & the 8 limbs of yoga.
The practice of Yoga, which includes breathing exercices, meditation and mindfulness practices as well as philosophical concepts, has been proven to help support mental well-being ans soothe disorders such as anxiety, depression and disordered eating. Read more about it below.
The 5 Koshas
The Sanskrit term "Kosha" means "Sheath". The 5 Koshas in the body are similar to the layers of an onion.
As you move from the outer layers to the inner layers, you get deeper into the core of self being. You eventually discover that your body is made up of subtle degrees of energy: from the physical body, to the energetic body, to the mental body, to the wisdom body, and finally, to the bliss body.
These five bodies cannot be separated or taken apart. These layers are highly interrelated and constantly interactive with one another. This means whatever happens at one level has an effect on all other layers of the body.
The 8 limbs of Yoga
In Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, the eightfold path is called ashtanga, which literally means "eight limbs" (ashta=eight, anga=limb). These eight steps basically act as guidelines on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life. They serve as a prescription for moral and ethical conduct and self-discipline; they direct attention toward one's health; and they help us to acknowledge the spiritual aspects of our nature.
How can Yoga support mental well-being?
What the research says:
Available reviews of a wide range of yoga practices suggest they can reduce the impact of exaggerated stress responses and may be helpful for both anxiety and depression.
For many patients dealing with depression, anxiety, or stress, yoga may be a very appealing way to better manage symptoms. (Source: https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/yoga-for-anxiety-and-depression)
Yoga is a spiritual lifestyle that transcends all religions. Yoga is successfully applied in various psychiatric disorders over the globe with encouraging evidence coming from scientific publications in reputed journals, especially in last three decades. These reports suggest a need to integrate yoga in mental health services.
Yoga has been used with success both in severe and less severe mental disorders as an intervention either with other conventional treatments or even solely. (Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4711230/)
Yoga for eating disorders
Research on yoga and eating disorders is growing. One study found yoga reduced anxiety, depression and negative body image in outpatient eating disorder recovery clients. Studies have also shown that yoga was associated with reduced preoccupation about food, a decrease in eating disorder symptoms, and increased awareness of emotions. (Source: https://mirror-mirror.org/getting-help/yoga-therapy-for-eating-disorder-recovery)
Read more about Yoga for Eating Disorders here.