International Yoga Day: Let’s Talk about Mental Health

Yoga – like it or not, is definitely a buzzword in today’s time. The International Yoga Day or the World Yoga Day is celebrated all over by fitness enthusiasts. While complicated asanas form the central focus on Instagram-worthy photos, some things are often missed in a rush to perfect the complicated pose.

Yoga is not just an exercise, it is a discipline that involves the combination of breath control, meditation as well as bodily postures, also known as asanas. Typically, a yoga class includes all this and much more. On this International Yoga Day, I’d like to bring the focus on mental health. We can go on and on about how Yoga is good for the back or for a flat tummy. Somehow, to me, the whole purpose is lost when you have only certain things in focus. The aim of being fit is universal but often gets overshadowed in carefully crafted marketing messages. With the number of depression cases on the rise, I’d like to talk specifically how your mental health is often overlooked despite being so important in today’s stressed out, social media addicted world.

The benefits of Yoga are indeed many, but why do we still see people unhappy despite not realising they are already blessed?

  1. You are constantly comparing
    It’s natural. Let’s not just blame social media. It happens every time you are in office or perhaps when a relative drops over.  “Why did they book a new house? Why not me?” or ” Why did he get the promotion?” Our reasons to be unhappy can be unlimited. But, did you manage to master your mind while practicing Yoga? Think about the good things or rather, think about nothing. Learn to clear your mind of this habit and you’ll feel lighter every day. You’ll soon start enjoying your exercise routine as you bring the focus on improving yourself rather than getting into self-pity.
  2. Your mind is worrying about the past or the future
    There was a time I used to do that. Often. I still do it. But, not so often. What does meditation do to you? It helps you calm the mind, bring a focus on the “Now”. I can’t say it is easy. It never is. The mind is constantly running. It travels all around the world in a span of 5 minutes. Wow! It’s difficult to meditate even for 5 minutes. But, it’s always better to try than to refuse just because you think you cannot do it. With time, you’ll soon see a difference in yourself.
  3. You are yet to fall in love with yourself
    You know it. The good days were indeed memorable. And, the bad days are kind of, well, let’s say. Sticking around. Not able to shrug it off. You hate your decisions. You hate your work. Hell, you are in a relationship and there’s no love. Or, you may fall in love but can’t be in a relationship. It’s a vicious cycle I tell you! But, your problems will fade away or at least appear minuscule if you learn to love yourself first. You do not need to seek validation from others. You know your talents. A job interview that didn’t go too well cannot dictate the level of your talent. Did you think that perhaps the recruiter may not be well-qualified to judge a position for your post, or maybe you just had a bad day? Why are you waiting for others to appreciate you? Now, loving yourself does not mean being vain. But, before you sink into depression, just give it a thought – is it worth it?
    – do you want to spend the next couple of hours worrying about it?
    – how does it add value to your thoughts?

I have seen my close friends suffer in silence living a life to please others. Why, I might have almost done that too. Yoga or the daily practice of any exercise makes your mind open to other thoughts. Ones that are constantly bogging you down are not doing any good to you. As you learn to practice those asanas and move from one pose to another, remember to unclutter your mind as well. After all, just as our body needs to be constantly challenged, so does our mind. And, we all know an idle mind is a devil’s workshop. So, here’s what you can do:

  1. Read good books. Yep, books. Do not cringe at this suggestion. It helps to read books that add value to your wisdom giving you a broader outlook to life.
  2. Detach from the situation. You do not need to run away from the person or objects or whatever that is disturbing you. Just learn the fine art of detachment.
  3. Focus on things you love. Every time you feel yourself sobbing over unachieved goals or lost love, just do something you like. Watch how your emotions change. Learn to observe yourself very closely.
  4. In a world that is fixated on self, be kind, help others. Help an animal or a human. Do something for someone else.

All you need to do is, ask yourself, are you true to yourself? Can you look in the mirror and say I am happy where I am? If not, what can I do to make it better?

So, the next time you workout or practice any favourite sport of your choice, remember that there are things beyond the perfect abs or muscles. It’s called a strong mind. A mind that can actually dictate all your choices in life. A mind that has the power to make you push beyond your limits. This mind is a wonderful thing – it can conjure up illusions of weakness or even build stories of strength. It talks to you everyday. Listen to what you say to yourself.

Have a story to share? How did you celebrate this day?

Do write to me at shopinstilettos@gmail.com

Happy International Yoga Day!

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