Yoga & Meditation for Mental Health
I’m sure that I was not alone in the sense of sadness & shock that washed over me upon hearing the news of Robin Williams’ death.
He was such a funny & brilliant human being. I, like many of us grew up with Robin’s hilarity and antics. He provided us with comic relief in a sometimes sad and frightening world and yet even his own genius wasn’t enough to save him from his inner struggle.
The silent suffering, manifesting as mental health disorders, taking place in this world is heartbreaking.
I honestly believe that if more people practiced yoga & meditation regularly we would see a lot less depression, anxiety & overall mental health concerns.
Now, let me preempt this by saying, I am not a doctor or scientist. My understanding of the power of yoga & meditation comes solely through my 14 year personal practice, my continual reading & study of yoga asana & philosophy and my 5 years as a yoga teacher. So, while I may not be able to speak to the scientific nature of yoga & meditation as a tool for healing, I can without any doubt in my mind attest to its absolute power to transform the body & mind in ways, I believe that are beyond the scope of science & medicine.
I have experienced personal transformation through yoga & meditation.
These practices have carried me through child-birth, parenting, unhealthy relationships, separation, my own level of depression, job loss (the list could go on) and based on my own experiences, I believe that without yoga and meditation, (meditation came into my life many years after my yoga practice and provided me with a much deeper physiological shift and sense of clarity & well-being, so much so that I feel the two really must go hand in hand as a complete practice for living) I would not have had the strength or mental capacity to have seen myself through the darkness & difficulty.
These two practices have provided an inner strength, sense of balance, grounding & mental clarity that I believe to be stronger and more effective than any prescription drug out there could provide.
Physiologically I have experienced change; of course I am stronger, more flexible and I’m sure my cardiovascular health has benefited, as well as my digestive, nervous and other bodily systems. Yet, it’s more than that, I FEEL stronger. I FEEL more resilient in the face of adversity. I am less reactive and more compassionate. I am able to observe my own behaviour, my own sadness, doubt & fears and still be ok with those feelings, understanding that they are separate from the true ME.
Through my teaching, I have had the absolute gift of witnessing others experience their own transformations as well.
This is one of the fundamental reasons that I choose to teach yoga; sharing this gift with others and bearing witness to the incredible life shift that a regular practice of both yoga & meditation can provide is incredibly fulfilling.
People come to the mat or cushion each day in my studio with the stress, heaviness, sadness and doubts of life weighing them down and they inevitably leave FEELING better, calmer, more at ease. There are times when people will cry, laugh, feel aversion & impatience and yet this all happens within the safe space of their own mat. This is yoga; the coming to know yourself through a dedicated practice. Once you take the time to come to the mat, even if at first you believe it to be simply to build physical strength or increase flexibility, at some point you will discover that the practice of yoga & meditation does so much more than take care of you physically… It provides you with a way of being in the world, which opens you up to your inner strength, wisdom, resiliency and ultimately your true essence – love.
There are far too many people in this world living, and sadly as Robin did, dying, holding onto anxiety, depression, resentment, anger and fear.
These emotions are an inevitable part of being human, yet the holding on to them, the silent suffering and angst – these are not inevitable and although there is certainly a place for allopathic treatment, I believe, again from my own personal experience and knowledge, that there is a much more holistic and effective way for people to cure themselves of these false beliefs and dis-eases. It is through finding a space to connect, to draw inward so that the outer world becomes far less threatening and scary. The coming to a place on your mat or cushion where with practice and mindful awareness you begin to recognize the inner light that is within all of us.
This is the gift of yoga; yet, don’t take it from me. Find a teacher & studio that feels right for you and discover the power of this timeless gift for yourself. And of course, if you’re feeling especially sad, lonely or distraught, please reach out to a friend, loved one or professional, as well.
Remember, we’re all alone in this together.
Therefore, be kind. Be peaceful. Be Happy. Be Free…
You can find my original published article on eatlivelife.com