EASTHAMPTON, Mass. - With the conversation of mental health growing around the country, some say yoga can play a part in caring for the mind.
"Yoga is more than just moving in poses," Nirvana Yoga director Kate Stenson said. "It's more about the breath. There's meditation. There's focus. It's the union of body, mind and spirit."
Stenson said yoga comes in a variety of different classes and methods from basic stretching and breathing exercises in beginner classes to more advanced and fast-paced poses and meditation like Wednesday's Vinyasa class.
Sharon Castelli, who has also been practicing and teaching yoga for years was, in attendance at Wednesday's class and said it's been wonderful for her mental health and well being.
"It definitely makes you calmer," Castelli said. "Breathing, learning to breathe, expanding your lung capacity. It makes you calmer. If you're really angry, there are breaths you can do for three minutes that totally change it."
Castelli said she was somewhat self conscious at the start of her yoga journey, but over the years has seen a lot of progress in her physical health particularly with flexibility.
She said yoga can also be a powerful healing outlet for those who maybe struggling with mental health whether it be with burnout, anxiety or depression.
"It takes you out of that loop," Castelli said. "Just from sitting and breathing and focusing on breath. It sounds so basic but you're not thinking anymore. You're giving yourself a break from those thoughts and it changes the direction. It changes your brain."
Castelli and Stenson both said yoga is easy to try because it creates a non-competitive environment where each individual only has to focus on their own day to day process.
Castelli said drastic change may not happen overnight for physical and mental ailments, but consistency will be the key to building a healthier lifestyle through yoga.
"With practice, with daily practice," Castelli said. "Even if you meditate for, or stretching and breathing for 10 minutes a day, you start to crave that time."