According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI.org) nearly 1 in 5, or roughly 43 million Americans, suffer from a mental illness, including conditions like depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia. One of the ways to help patients combat stress and anxiety is through the 5,000 year old ancient practice we call yoga.
Yoga has been around for centuries, but in the last ten years the practice has become increasingly popular. Yoga studios are popping up around every corner. Yoga can help alleviate depression and other mental health issues. It is a mind-body exercise that is effective at reducing stress and anxiety, and improving brain function and mental health. It has also been shown to help with relapse prevention. Yoga may, in fact, be one of the best physical activities to improve mental well being.
Yoga modulates the body’s perceived stress and anxiety levels by slowing down rapid breathing and heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and increasing heart rate variability. This increases “feel good” neurotransmitters in the brain, which is a GABA booster. GABA (gamma-aminobutyricacid) is one of the brain’s main inhibitory neurotransmitters. It puts the brakes on brain activity, helping you relax. When you are low in GABA transmitters, your brain gets stuck in the “on” position. It’s like driving an automobile with a brick on the accelerator and no brakes. This can result in overstimulation, leading to feelings of anxiousness.
At our Philadelphia drug rehab, we offer holistic treatment options to supplement traditional approaches to therapy. These include chiropractic and acupuncture services, dietician consultation, smoking cessation programs, biofeedback techniques and yoga. Providing patients with a calm environment to clear their thoughts is crucial for the retention of therapeutic lessons. Treatment programming consists of group therapy, individual and family therapy, which can be a lot for an individual to process, especially in the beginning stages of treatment. It is common during this stage of the recovery process for patient’s to open up and discuss deep-rooted issues, and that isn’t always easy. Having yoga is a great balance that teaches patients to sit with themselves in their own element and practice breathing techniques, muscle relaxation, stretching, and meditation. Enhancing self-image by way of positive affirmations and guided meditations are also useful and can be incorporated into the yoga practice.