Yoga for Mental Health

Yoga for Mental Health

The power of pranayama, chanting and asana in mental wellbeing. By Pauline Carpino

Reading time: 3 minutes

Bethlem Royal Hospital in London is the oldest mental health institution in the world, based in an iconic structure first opened to the public in 1247. The conditions were quite horrific at the time and it has even inspired a few horror movies — the on-site Museum of the Mind is a testimony of this past time. Fortunately, the circumstances have evolved over the centuries and it now offers a range of alternative therapies such as yoga, meditation, mindfulness, sound healing and more to patients through a project that I am currently leading on.

Now, more than ever, the awareness about mental ill health is rising globally and the mainstream medical system has begun to acknowledge the need for a more sustainable way of accompanying patients towards recovery. Alternative therapies are gradually being introduced in medical structures alongside treatment plans, giving people the tools they need and guiding them to build a new lifestyle for a more effective long-term management of their condition. Below are a few methods that can improve one’s mental health:

The importance of the breath to balance the nervous system

Pranayama (breathing techniques) is a very precious practice that oxygenises the brain and contributes to the healthy functioning of the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to induce a sense of calm and safety within.

Chanting: the union of pranayamas and sound healing

This combines the benefits of breathwork and the sacred vibrations of sound in a form of syllables or mantras that are chanted. This technique allows for the mind to remain focused and centred throughout the practice until the person naturally unwinds. The use of sound healing brings one into the same type of brainwaves as meditation, hence the soothing effect of this blissful exercise.

Asanas to relieve tensions within the body and to centre the mind

Classical yogic postures provide countless benefits that have been proven for thousands of years. United with the breath, these postures help to dislodge tensions within the physical body and to sharpen the mind through a series of gentle stretches and balancing poses.

Pauline Carpino practices various alternative therapies, she teaches in the mental health sector and runs her own private retreats and workshops. Visit:


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