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Yoga For Mental Health

By: Amanda Manning, LMHC, LPC, RYT (200)

It wasn’t what you would recognize as depression, or anxiety. It didn’t present itself with those tell-tale symptoms. I was out of bed. Dressed. Functioning for the most part, but I was angry. Easily agitated. Easily frustrated. Screaming and irritated and really, really, really effing mad all the time. Rage burning out of my chest.

It was the middle of a pandemic and I was doing my best, but I was sad, tired, angry. I was overwhelmed. I was still living in the belief that things could go the way I expected them to go and still surprised and angry when they didn’t.

Fun fact. I’m a mental health therapist AND a yoga teacher, so when you think you are alone in feeling some similar way and that there are other people out there who have it all together, please know that you are absolutely not alone in this. This year has been a struggle for all of us. And sometimes it’s still a struggle when we are not in the middle of a pandemic.

The only thing that I have over you is training and education - that I paid a lot of money for - that has given me the tools to dig myself out of these holes a little quicker. I also have the years of experience in using these tools to know that it is the only way for me to get out of these holes.

The best part about these tools is that they are absolutely available to everyone, where ever you are. The tools that I am referring to are yoga and meditation and other mindfulness practices. You may roll your eyes at yoga. There has been a problem with yoga in the West for years that has made yoga seem inaccessible either physically or financially.

Let’s put that aside for a moment and imagine a world where that isn’t an issue.

The funny thing is…this dream of accessible yoga? It really isn’t a dream. Accessibility is the nature and the core of yoga and anyone making you feel differently should not be taking your money to teach you about yoga.

So here we are in our reality that yoga is financially and physically accessible, yes? With none of those things to worry about anymore, let’s focus on why you need yoga for mental wellness.

First of all, one of the purposes of yoga is to connect you to your own inner strengths, recognizing that you already have everything within you to make the changes that you feel you want to make. In yoga, this concept is called “samtusta”. Samtusta is recognizing that we have enough conditions to be happy right here and right now. Inevitably when I say that people have a knee-jerk reaction to tell me why that isn’t possible. What was your reaction when you read that? Was it a thought? A physical feeling?

We have been tricked over time to forget that we have everything we need and one of the biggest culprits and tricksters is trauma.