Yoga for mental health; Namastay away from me

I’ve been practising yoga for about 4 years now, and it’s definitely been a hate love relationship; I hated it before I loved it. I remember my first yoga class, I went with a couple of friends who were also yoga ‘virgins’. My toes looked so far away from my hands. We giggled at absolutely everything, and I’m pretty sure someone farted (yes that’s a real thing in yoga classes).

But after my friends stopped going, something about yoga appealed to me. I started to get more flexible and felt a sense of achievement when I finally nailed a new pose.

Initially, I found meditation ridiculously hard and completely pointless. I’d lie on the cold floor while listening to ‘relaxing’ music, the teacher talking through a body scan. My mind would wander to just about anything other than being present in that room. Thoughts of ‘what am I going to have for dinner?’ ‘I have to reply to that email’ or ‘shall I go to the pub after class?’.

Before I went to India on the ancient and holistic psychology programme with SLV, I started 1-2-1 yoga classes because I thought everyone else would be better at yoga than me. I’ve since learned that yoga is not about competing with others, and we will always be a work in progress. (Creds to @Ro__Gro for that quote). Ro has been an absolute inspiration in my yoga journey and is a fantastic teacher who is always warm and welcoming.

Then, in India, I started to learn about how they use yoga as a treatment method for some quite severe mental health conditions and that put it into perspective for me. What if yoga really was beneficial to my mental health?

India- July 2017

See, the actual Asana’s (or poses) are a relatively new addition to the philosophy of yoga. The original Asana was lotus pose, a simple seated posture. The physical practice is only intended to calm ones mind in preparation for meditation.

The Barefoot Eco Hotel, Hanimaadhoo, Haa Dhaalu Atoll, Maldives – December 2018

My self practice is far from perfect, and I’d be lying if I said I did yoga every day. I have the intention, but it seems to be impossible in this busy modern world. I’m not making excuses, well ok I probably am, but I do try to practice at least 4 times a week. I’ve been to a number of yoga courses and festivals as well, to try and gain a broader knowledge and motivation.

Omm yoga show – Alexandra Palace London
Ft. @bsxcarter

The point is, I’ve found yoga to be the one thing that can calm my anxieties. The one thing that can stop ruminating, negative thought patterns. The one thing that I can go into feeling absolutely vile, and come out of with a smile on my face. Yoga is something I do just for me. And if you haven’t already, I’d urge you to give it a go!

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