There were over 21 million Americans who chose to practice yoga in 2016, with 66% using it to increase their energy, 55% to see their immune function increasing and 28% to prevent health issues. More than a mere trend, yoga continues to come out on top in research studies as the “exercise” to choose if you want to feel better physically, emotionally and mentally. For mothers, it is especially important to feel strong mentally, so that they can handle the problems that come their way, and so that they can be a source of comfort for their family. Yoga is a natural way of bringing balance and positivity back to our mental health, as the following points will prove. Increases subjective well-being Before we can take care of others, we need to take care of and be kind to our own self. Yoga can help you “build a sense of self,” writes yoga teacher and licensed psychotherapist Ashley Turner. It boosts our mood and increases subjective well-being, so that we can learn to be more accepting of our present situation, and work on improving in those areas we feel weakest at our own pace. Decreases hostility When you are kind to yourself, it has nothing to do with being selfish or self-involved. On the contrary, the benefits of this can be enjoyed by those around you as well. Studies have shown how yoga helps to decrease hostility. With its meditative nature, yoga enables us to appreciate the present, rather than focusing on an unreachable past or future. Alleviates anxiety Yoga will take you, “from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system.” In other words, it will take you from the flight or fight mode to the rest and digest state by reducing your anxiety and bringing forth a state of calm. Anxiety is a common issue that can leave you feeling paralyzed and prevent you from doing the simplest things because of fear. Yoga is an ideal alternative to anti-anxiety medication and can help ease the psychosomatic issues that can come with it. Helps reduce stress Chronic stress “has the potential to harm all of the major systems in the body,” from cardiovascular to respiratory, immune, endocrine and more. “Yoga helps you to access an inner strength that allows you to face the sometimes-overwhelming fears, frustrations, and challenges of everyday life,” and it does so by helping you to regulate your breathing, by releasing tension from the large muscle groups, as well as by “flushing all parts of the body and brain with fresh blood, oxygen, and other nutrients, and increasing feelings of well-being.” Helps with depression One of the first things people suffering from depression do is to stop moving. Yoga poses “put pressure on glands and organs,” and they improve circulation, both of which lead to oxygen being sent to our brain and our muscles. Moreover, “stretching and strengthening movements flush toxins from the body.” “Like a spring wind,” yoga brings new life to our body and helps to ease the darkness that comes with depression. There are other mental benefits of course, such as improvement in our reaction time, our attention, our memory and our processing speed. More than an exercise, “yoga is a psychology — the whole practice helps us work with the nature of the mind,” says Turner. No matter your level of fitness, yoga is there, waiting for you to make the first move. Learn the best moves to start with when you are still a beginner, be guided by a yoga instructor online through videos or join a yoga class, and you will be on your way to a stronger mental state.