The Emotional Benefits of Yoga

Mike Veny's yoga practice has helped him release trauma and begin a new path of healing.

by Mike Veny Patient Advocate

Every once in a while you come across something that truly changes your life for the better. I'm going to tell you a little about one of those times in my own life with the hope that it will have a similar impact on you.

Around a year ago, a close friend noticed I was headed in a negative direction and suggested I look for new ways to manage my difficult emotions. From that conversation, I ended up at a retreat to help me learn how to process my emotions.

I learned that I needed to have a protocol in place to deal with how my feelings were affecting me physically. See, I was doing well at keeping a journal and seeing my therapist regularly. But I hadn't realized that my emotions were manifesting themselves in parts of my body. For years, I hadn't really paid attention to the amount of tension I was carrying around.

Don't get me wrong, I knew that I felt tense. But I thought it was just normal stress or that I needed to get a massage. I didn't realize that I was holding onto negative emotions within my body.

What Is Restorative Yoga?

Let me be honest, I was never a yoga person. Seriously. I was into weight training and still am. The thought of doing yoga wasn't even something that was in my head. Then I read the book “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. Along with the retreat, this book helped open my mind up to the idea that emotional trauma exists in the body. And it's not just me. This is a concept that the world of mental health is slowly starting to understand. It really isn't just in your mind.

So now I do yoga as a way to release those negative emotions. Restorative and yin yoga are both very relaxing. You're on the floor for most of it and hold positions for a long time. I started out by purchasing the app Down Dog. Every time you use it, you get a different practice instead of listening to the same ones over and over again, and it's easy to follow.

I even travel with a yoga mat now. And since I'm on the road so much as a mental health speaker, it's important that I keep my routine wherever I am.

My Experience With Yoga

When I began to practice, I started to become familiar with the areas of my body where I carried my tension. I also noticed that there were times, like this morning, when I woke up angry. At first, I was confused about where the anger was coming from. I had a good day yesterday that I ended with a great dinner. There was nothing that I could remember that would cause me to feel angry.

But then I remembered that I had done restorative yoga before going to bed. I spoke with a friend who recommended that I start doing this type of yoga first thing in the morning. When I wait until the end of the day, I end up going to bed with those freshly released emotions. Starting earlier will give me more time to process.

How to Get Started With Restorative Yoga

This is all still a new journey for me. But I'm hoping that it will give me a better awareness of my body and what's going on inside at different times, along with a way to release emotions.

If you’re interested in trying out yoga as a form of emotional release, there are plenty of ways to get started. Sometimes I attend a yoga class, which is awesome. There are plenty of yoga studios that offer them. However, if you don't have a studio near you, there are other options too. You can check out what apps are available. I recommend Down Dog, but others are out there to choose from. YouTube videos can make getting started for free easy and convenient.

The key is being willing to give it a try, close your eyes, and sit with your body. Imagine how at peace your body could feel if you were able to let that tension go.

Mike Veny
Meet Our Writer
Mike Veny

Mental health speaker and best-selling author Mike Veny delivers engaging presentations with raw energy and a fresh perspective on diversity and inclusion. He shares how he went from struggling with mental health challenges to being a thought leader that travels the globe telling his story to help transform stigma. He is a highly sought-after keynote speaker, corporate drumming event facilitator, author, and luggage enthusiast. Seriously, you’d completely get it if you did all the traveling he did! Mike is the author of the book Transforming Stigma: How to Become a Mental Wellness Superhero. As a 2017 PM360 ELITE Award Winner, he is recognized as one of the 100 most influential people in the healthcare industry for his work as a patient advocate.