In general, practicing yoga will decrease stress, anxiety, and depression and give a huge boost to your mood, psychological health, and sense of well-being. But there are a few yoga poses or positions you can do to specifically target your psychological health area, as well as to enhance your cognitive functioning and increase memory, mental clarity, and intelligence. For these purposes, Surya namaskara is excellent.
Also, the backward-bending yoga poses, such as bow pose and camel pose, and spine-twisting poses, such as waist-rotating pose and Ardha matsyendrasana or half spinal twist, are usually considered ideal to improve one’s psychological health and cognitive benefits.
So, to do that, we can also add upside-down yoga poses that increase blood flow to the brain, like vipareeta Karani asana (inverted pose) and its more advanced version, Sarvangasana to one’s yoga practice routine.
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I. Yoga Poses for Cognitive Benefits and Psychological Health
Yoga pose #1 to improve one’s psychological health: Seated Twist
- In case Ardha matsyendranasana, or the half spinal twist, is a bit too much for you, you can try this simpler and less demanding “seated twist.”
- Sit in sukhasana, the comfortable pose. Twist to your left. Put your left hand, palm down, on the floor behind you, while your right-hand rests on your left knee. Turn your neck as far as you can without straining, so that you’re looking behind you. Hold that pose for twenty counts, breathing slowly and allowing the muscles in your back, arms, neck, and shoulders to relax.
- Then return to sukhasana and repeat on the right side.
Benefits: This is a deeply relaxing position that soothes anxiety and stress. It gives a gentle twist to the spine from the base to the neck, which adds flexibility to the back and improves posture.
Yoga pose #2 to improve one’s psychological health: Ardha matsyendrasana / Half Spinal Twist
- From a seated position, with the legs extended in front of the body, bend the right knee and place the right foot flat on the floor. Bend the left leg and bring the knee under the crook of the right leg, so that the left heel touches the right buttock. Bring the left arm to the right side of the body and the other side of the right leg, and grasp the right ankle with the left hand. The right leg should be pressing against the left arm.
- Keeping the spine straight, exhale and twist your torso to the right, and press your right hand on the floor, elbow locked. Twist your neck to the right as far as is comfortable to add to the twisted position of this pose, but don’t allow your shoulders to slouch. Keep your neck straight and upright.
- The idea is to use your right leg and left arm to twist the spine without using the back muscles so that the spine and back muscles are left to relax fully. You should not strain or force anything in this position. Breathe deeply for twenty counts of the breath, then inhale and slowly return to the starting position.
- Then repeat the whole position, this time on the left side.
Benefits: Half a spinal twist relieves stress, anxiety, and depression. It helps release deep tension from the back, shoulders, and neck, which often accompanies stress. It is also an excellent backstretch that alternately stretches and contracts the muscles on each side of the back, and can improve back conditions such as a slipped disc.
Yoga pose #3 to improve one’s psychological health: Ardha Vipareeta Karani Asana / Half Inverted Pose
- This pose is a preparation for the proper vipareeta Karani, in which you raise your legs straight up without support while letting your shoulders take the weight.
- In this preparatory pose, place a cushion or two next to a wall. You want to rest your butt and lower back on the pillow, while the legs point straight up and rest against the wall. Your arms and shoulders rest on the floor. Thus your hips will be slightly higher than your chest and shoulders.
- Once you’re in position, you can simply relax like that and breathe deeply. To return from this asana, bring your knees to your chest, then roll onto your side before getting up.
Benefits: Half inverted pose reverses the usual direction of gravity on the body. Blood will drain from the legs and move to the upper part of the body. The increased blood flow to the brain improves your thinking and cognition in general, as well as brings relaxation and reduces stress.
If your job or lifestyle is not very active and you sit for long periods, this pose is especially helpful. It will help reduce any possible swelling or pain in the legs and feet. It improves circulation overall.
Contraindications: If you have high blood pressure, give this one a pass, as it will increase blood pressure in the upper body.
Yoga pose #4 to improve one’s psychological health: Vipareeta Karani Asana / Inverted Pose
- Lie flat on your back with your feet together. Your arms should be at your side, palms against the floor. Inhale while lying down.
- Then, holding your breath, lift your legs towards the ceiling and bring them towards your head. Pressing down with your palms, letting the arms do the work, lift your buttocks from the floor, which will cause your back to bend. Lift the palms but keep the elbows on the floor, then bring the palms against the lower part of your back just below the buttocks to support the weight. If that is too difficult, you can hold your palms against the buttocks. Your elbows and shoulders will support the weight of your body.
- Keep your legs at a ninety-degree angle to the floor. Close your eyes and relax, breathing normally for as long as you are comfortable. Then, holding your breath again, bring the knees towards your head again, return your palms face-down to the floor, and slowly lower the buttocks to the floor, finally resting your legs and resuming the original position.
- In the beginning, you may find it easier to prop your legs against the wall while holding this position.
Benefits: Inverted pose reverses the force of gravity on the body, which has several benefits. In particular, it causes blood flow to the head to increase. The increased blood flow in the brain benefits the mind, relieving anxiety, stress, and depression, improving cognitive functions, and increasing memory and intelligence. The inverted pose also relieves flatulence and hemorrhoids.
Yoga pose #5 to improve one’s psychological health: Sarpasana / Serpent Pose
- Lie on your stomach with your legs together. Clasp your hands together behind your back, resting them on your buttocks. Rest your chin on the floor.
- As you breathe in, raise your chest from the floor as far as you can. Engage your back muscles for this, but don’t force anything. At the same time, raise your arms. Gaze ahead.
- Hold this position for as long as you can without breathing. Then slowly lower your chest to the floor again as you exhale. Rest your head to one side and relax. Do several rounds.
Benefits: In addition to being an excellent way to strengthen the lower back, the serpent pose stretches and opens the chest. It alleviates respiratory ailments such as asthma. It is useful to promote good circulation and a healthy heart. It also encourages you to let go of any negative emotions you might be holding onto.
Also Read: How to Eat: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life
1. Psychological health care?
Psychological Health Care is a professional wellness practice that can help you learn to cope more effectively with everyday events or psychological health challenges.
2. What is psychological health?
Psychological health involves having mental, social, and emotional well-being.
3. What are some best yoga poses for maintaining good psychological health?
We have mentioned the top 5 yoga poses in this article, which are considered ideal for one’s psychological health.
4. Does yoga help in maintaining one’s psychological health?
When you do yoga, your brain cells develop new connections, and changes occur in brain structure as well as function, resulting in improved cognitive skills, such as learning and memory. Yoga strengthens parts of the brain that play a key role in memory, attention, awareness, thought, and language. Think of it as weightlifting for the brain.
5. How do you take care of one’s psychological health?
- Spend time with friends, loved ones, and people you trust.
- Talk about or express your feelings regularly.
- Reduce alcohol consumption.
- Avoid illicit drug use.
- Keep active and eat well.
- Develop new skills and challenge your capabilities.
- Relax and enjoy your hobbies.
- Set realistic goals.
To read more about psychological health, click here: Yoga for Psychological Health?