Why is Yoga good for mental health?
You have often heard of yoga helping with balance, but this isn’t just physical. The philosophy of yoga embodies the idea of balance, mentally and emotionally as well as physically. There are specific asanas and sequences that help us find equilibrium when we are feeling overly stirred up or anxious (rajasic), or heavy and potentially depressed (tamasic). Why we are not advocating for people to turn to yoga over medical care, when yoga offers something to a person regardless of how they feel when they wake up in the morning. For example, one may do a forward bend sequence if they are feeling anxious, and a chest opening sequence if they are feeling depressed. The idea that there is always something one can do to better their own predicament is empowering and self-motivating in itself. The three acts of yoga are a very simple outline on life philosophy that is beneficial for all, but very comforting for those going through any sort of struggle. Yoga just asks that one show up and put forth effort (tapas). But, yoga isn’t just about feeling the burn. Yoga asks that the student simply observe their effort without judgement or attachment to outcome (self-study or svedyaya).
Through self-study, one is able to judiciously decide what and how to surrender. This philosophy is practiced during a yoga class, which begins to have tremendous benefit in regular life because it promotes a desire to gently understand ourselves rather than critically mandate.
Yoga believes that a person is whole to begin with and as awareness is gained through
effort, self-study and surrender, one is able to be more of who they are versus feeling they are broken and need to be fixed.