In a multi-millennial journey from being a spiritual practice of ancient India to becoming considered as being the ultimate antidote in the corporate fast lane, one cannot deny that yoga has come a long way.
In carrying out so many different moves and stretches it is easy to understand the physical benefits one gains if practising yoga regularly. Whilst it is widely accepted that any type of exercise is good for one’s mental health as well as their physical health, the psychological benefits of yoga remain a lot more ambiguous and uncertain.
The psychological benefits of yoga became slightly more ‘concrete’ when the findings of a pilot study were published in a recent edition of the Journal of Development & Behavioural Paediatrics. The study was aimed at researching the effects yoga had on adolescents suffering from mental health disorders such as anxiety and stress.
According to Science Daily, the study showed significant improvements in the psychological outcomes of 51 eleventh and twelfth grade students registered for physical education at a Massachusetts high school.
The students completed a series of psychosocial tests before and after undergoing a ten-week yoga program. The tests assessed the moods of the teenagers and self-regulatory abilities, such as anger management and mindfulness.
The research findings on the psychological benefits of yoga on teenagers proved that the youngsters who had been part of the yoga program had performed better in the psychological tests, such a showing a significant increase in positive emotions. Whilst the teenagers who had stayed in regular physical education classes tended to score worse in tests examining mood problems and anxiety.
Whilst the size of the Massachusetts high school study was relatively low, it does remain “generally consistent” with other research that has been conducted to examine the psychological powers of yoga, and as Jessca Noggle, PhD , of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, who led the recent study said:
“Yoga may serve a preventative role in adolescent mental health.”
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