5 Reasons Why Highly Sensitive People Should Practice Yoga to Improve Mental Health
There are anywhere from 15 to 20% of the population who are known as Highly Sensitive People (HSP) who have a sensory processing trait that results in them feeling emotions more intensely and deeply than others. Highly sensitive people would benefit greatly from an activity that is stimulating but also soothing and meaningful, and none fits that criteria better than yoga. Here are five great reasons why yoga is perfect for HSPs.
1. HSPs can experience spiritual and purposeful movement in yoga
People that are highly sensitive do much better in environments when they feel a sense of purpose and meaning in their life, whether its relationships or their career. The same goes for physical movement as well, so the best activities for highly sensitive people are those that incorporate movements that are authentic, have meaning, and are soulful. There are some yoga classes that are taught by excellent teachers who activate and focus on both the physical body as well as the spiritual and emotional aspects of us. There are classes which mix poses, meditation, reflection, and challenge. The teacher’s instructions are poetic and the background music renders the whole thing quite spiritual.
If you have trouble finding a class like that with the right teacher, you can still make any yoga class soulful by having the right mentality and sense of openness and frankness when you attend. As Renata Johnson, a psychology writer at Study demic and Studentwritingservices explains it, “being soulful or spiritual is all about connecting with a bigger purpose through your movements, by honouring your body and taking care of yourself. If yoga isn’t that meaningful to you, you can find that feeling of depth and meaning in other activities, like an early morning walk, swimming, or spending time with animals.”
2. HSPs can manage their nervous systems through yoga
It’s important that HSPs don’t feel too much stimulation, but they also don’t want to be bored by their surroundings. Yoga can help keep your stress low and your emotions in check by focusing on deep breaths and meditation. Yoga works on the body as well as the brain, and when you can strengthen the interactions between the two, you’ll find that it becomes easier to avoid over stimulation and staying calm.
This is even more important if you’re an HSP that seeks out heightened sensations. Because you crave the familiar but you don’t want to be bored, you often end up being wired and exhausted at the same time. Try to balance your yoga classes so you attend some that are more relaxing and based in meditation and others that are more vigorous. This is a good way to balance the two sides of your needs by using yoga.
3. HSPs can stop over analyzing due to yoga
It’s normal that HSPs over analyze everything around them, because of the sheer number of details and observations that you make. That means your brain is overworked most of the day and you end up worrying or over thinking everything. In fact, Kendra Tradsley, a spiritual blogger at Simple Grad and Topcanadianwriters, shares that “by doing yoga, you’re forced to focus on the present and your body and switch off that over active part of your brain. To go through the poses, you’ll have to concentrate and trust your body to execute them – a great combination for HSPs.”
4. HSPs can focus on their unique needs during yoga
Yoga helps you focus on your own body’s needs for activity or rest. There are so many factors that affect how HSPs feel from day to day, like what you ate, what you slept, how stressed you are, and more. That’s why it’s important to take a yoga class where you can listen to your body and do exactly what it needs. Look for a class where the teacher supports you in listening to your body’s needs and offers suggestions for poses that might be beneficial to you. Make the poses as relaxing or challenging as you need for that day and that moment.
5. HSPs can build trust in themselves through yoga
If you’re recovering from an injury or trauma, an activity that puts you too much in your body like yoga can be a trigger. This is also the case for those recovering from an eating disorder, or if you suffer from chronic illness or other condition that makes physical activity difficult. That’s why it’s important to trust in your body and your understanding of what it needs. The important thing is that yoga is about movement and being soulful and not about exercising or working out.
It’s normal that when you start to get in your body through yoga you’ll start feeling a lot of emotions. If you’re looking into practising yoga regularly whether it’s more meditative and spiritual or more energetic, you should also consider reaching out for support from a mental health professional. They’ll be able to follow your journey and be supportive if you feel any triggers or difficult moments. There are also classes of trauma-informed yoga which may be an option for you, though this should also be done with support from a doctor or medical professional.
It’s important to pick the right studio, classes, and the teacher carefully. If you don’t go to the right place, or the teacher isn’t good for you, you might find the whole experience overwhelming and overstimulating. Look for classes that are smaller in size, with no mirrors, no furnishings, and only light music. Most importantly, find a teacher that is invested in your journey instead of seeing you as just an accessory. The majority of yoga studios will let you try out some classes for free before getting a membership.
Whatever you decide to do to focus on your health and stability, it’s important to maintain a good balance with time to yourself for reflection, sleep and downtime, and meaningful relationships. It’s important that you feel comfortable and happy in your body.
Molly Crockett is a spiritual writer for UK Services Reviews and Australian Reviewer. She loves sharing her insights on authentic, meaningful relationships and approaches to personal and professional life. She also writes articles for Write my Australia about yoga and meditative practices that have been very helpful to her.