yoga for mental health

Yoga For Mental Health: My Top 5 Favorite Videos

I don’t do yoga to lose weight and I don’t do yoga to become more flexible. I do yoga because each time my feet hit the mat I am forced to confront myself. To focus on what’s going on in my head and how I’m feeling in that moment. I have to pay attention to how I’m breathing and I have to pay attention to how I’m holding and carrying my body and where the tension is. I have to pay attention.

Yoga confronts me with truth.

There are all kinds of yoga. All kinds. There are headstands and handstands and yoga that you do in heated rooms that have sweat pouring off of you. There’s yoga done on beaches and mountaintops and sunny places. That’s not how I yoga.

I’m a messy hair, pajama-wearing, sometimes-still-in-bed yoga practitioner.

Check out Yin yoga and Restorative yoga, that’s where it’s at. Yoga is my self-care for Anxiety and Depression. I do yoga for my mental health. If you want more coping tools, check out my anxiety workbook.

When I’m going through periods of depression or intense anxiety, the last thing that I want to do is get out of bed, or shower, or even function. And guess what, there’s yoga for days like that. Yoga you can do in bed with pillows and blankets. Yoga where it’s literally okay to be a crying mess because you’re letting your feelings out. That’s my yoga.

With depression and anxiety (especially when you’re going through a bad day) it’s hard to do things, normal things, basic human function things.

How do you manage to do yoga when you’re in a dark place?

Well, usually it starts out resentfully.

I’m not going to sugar-coat it. Because as much as it makes me feel better, as much as I know it’s good for me, I don’t want to do it. At all. I want to lay there. I want to sleep. Block out the world and ignore the things that are bothering me. I don’t want to face what’s going on inside, even though I know I need to. But I cajole myself, bargain with myself, gently (and sometimes not-so-gently) nudge myself toward self-care. Even though I’m tired, exhausted. Even though I tell myself nothing is going to make me feel better.

I do it anyway because self-care isn’t always easy and self-care isn’t always just giving into what you want in the moment.

Here are some tips!

If you want to do yoga in bed then do yoga in bed. If you’re too tired to go turn on the light or get dressed? Who cares. If you’re watching the video in bed from your phone? That’s fine. If you want to skip a pose and go to your favorite default pose? Dooooo it. (If I don’t feel like doing a pose, I don’t. If there’s one that involves standing and I’m in bed, I just do child’s pose.)

Yoga is not about anything other than checking in with your body and your energy while using certain poses to facilitate that journey of going within. That’s all. The end. If you can do that, you can do yoga.

Most of these videos require pillows and blankets (yay!) and little to no standing poses (also yay!) so if you’re having a bad day where you just want to stay in bed, try one of these videos instead.

I like to gather lots of blankets and pillows, make myself a nest on the floor, light some candles and then go at it.

1. Intro to Yin – Yin Yoga | Yoga With Adriene

Tons of pillows, very restful and relaxing and a lot of the poses just feel warm and comforting. It’s full of self-love and being very gentle with yourself.

2. TRUE – Day 14 – LISTEN | Yoga With Adriene

A practice that is all about stillness and listening to what’s going on inside of you.  If you’ve got emotional constipation or you’re having trouble processing your feelings, this practice is wonderful.

3. Yoga for Anxiety – 20 Minute Practice | Yoga With Adriene

This video has an alternate nostril breathing exercise which always helps that anxious feeling in my chest that makes me feel like I’m not breathing deeply enough.

4. Beginners Yoga for Anxiety & Panic Attacks | PsycheTruth

This one focuses on clearing your mind and focusing on your breathing.

5. Winter Solstice Restorative Yoga | Yoga with Kassandra

Technically a yoga practice for the Winter Solstice but so calming and relaxing.

Honorable Mentions: Yoga for Migraines, Cozy Yoga, Restorative Yoga Sequence for Anxiety

Yoga for Mental Health: What did you think?