Yoga for Mental Health Awareness Month

By Tina Russo Lancey, CYT, R-AYF, R-CYAMT

Mental Health has recently started rhadamanthine less taboo to talk well-nigh in the 21st century, however, stigma is still one of the many problems surrounding mental illness. May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States. Let us squint at the history of mental illness in this country, discuss the place of yoga therapy in mental health, and how we can use yoga to bring our struggles to God.

Before the 1960s, there really was no medication for mental health. People who suffered from depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and the like, were forced into mental hospitals for treatment. These treatment centers were often stigmatized and referred to as “looney bins,” “nut houses,” “funny farms,” and “crazy places.”

Starting with Lithium in 1948 and then Thorazine in 1954, medications for mental disorders started hitting the market. The use of these drugs grew through the 1960s. Then in the 1970s, all over America, people with mental health issues were stuff fed pills to cure what ailed them. Unfortunately, during this time, mental health hospitals (the same “funny farms”) were starting to close. Former patients were handed a snifter of medication as they were told “good luck” and hustled out the door. While for some people who suffered mental illness, escaping the horrors of poorly run sanitariums was a blessing, for others, it only hurt them and their situation.

So why were the wonder pills of the ’60s such a disaster? Well, patients were no longer under the uncontrived superintendency of doctors, nurses, and other support staff. Patients now were on their own as far as taking their medication, and for some of these illnesses, part of the illness is the withholding of a problem. Bipolar disorder is one of these types of mental illnesses where the patient often believes they are not ill, and therefore, they condone their medication as not needed.

Other factors in the deinstitutionalization of the 1960s and 1970s included limited wangle to medication, wangle to doctors who could understand and prescribe the medication, limited talk therapies (and other therapies) often needed slantingly medication treatments, increased treason single-minded by persons with mental illness, and increased stigma virtually seeking treatment. Nowhere in the equation, did physical exercise and our connection with God come into play.

During the 1960s, yoga exploded in the United States, however it was not looked at as a ways to support mental health illnesses until the new Millenium. With the Coronavirus pandemic, yoga for mental health hit an all-time high. People started to recognize plane the healthiest of us were dealing with uncharted waters when it came to mental health as the world went into a lockdown mode and people were forced to stay home from school, work, and entertainment.

When it became well-spoken in the early days of the pandemic, that we were in for a potential long haul of transpiration and isolation, yoga teachers virtually the world had to pivot and icon out a way to make yoga increasingly wieldy with the situation not showing signs of getting largest through the summer and into the fall. With winter on the horizon and the mutation of new strains, then people sought to find ways to relieve pandemic fatigue. Many yoga classes were now streaming online, but not without problems. Thankfully the yoga polity did its weightier to transmute to new technologies and offer yoga in variegated facets. Many people dusted off their mats and attended online classes, including yoga teacher training. So why was yoga suddenly popular?

Research has proven these facts:

  • Yoga can ease depression
  • Yoga is usually affordable
  • Yoga can modernize concentration, focus, memory, and mood
  • Yoga can reduce the effects of PTSD
  • Yoga can uplift confidence
  • Yoga teaches controlled breathing
  • Yoga makes us increasingly mindful
  • Yoga helps to relieve stress
  • Yoga can help relieve pain
  • Yoga can help relieve psychotic symptoms
  • Yoga can reduce fatigue
  • Yoga can uplift energy
  • Yoga can increase healthy sleep patterns

Other benefits of yoga include:

  • Improved quality of life
  • Increased strength
  • Lowering obesity
  • Reducing cholesterol
  • Increased balance
  • Reduced menopausal symptoms
  • Improve kidney function
  • Improved posture

For Christians, there are widow bonuses to practicing yoga in relation to our walk with Christ. Considering yoga ways to “yoke,” which translates to union, as Christians we can squint through the lens of union between us and Christ. The physical and mental benefits of yoga not only can help us with stress, mental illness, etc., but we can take those things which ail us, mental health-related or not, and use our time on the mat to connect with God and requite him the burdens we face.

On the mat, we can pray, meditate on the Word, and listen. Sometimes our mental illnesses can be overwhelming. The recent loss of Naomi Judd of The Judd’s, just a day surpassing The Judd’s would be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and weeks surpassing a final tour with daughter Wynonna, let the world see the undersong of peepers was overwhelming. To someone on the outside, Naomi Judd unfurled to have everything going for her and her family. Still, she faced a struggle that overtook everything. This ultimately led her to take her own life. This was expressly surprising as Naomi had so openly discussed her struggles in her typesetting “River of Time: My Descent into Peepers and How I Emerged with Hope.”** (#ad)

As Christians, we can take medication, engage in talk therapy, and plane practice yoga for relief, but our yoga practice allows us to moreover connect with God. The pursuit verses are workable to our struggle with mental illness. Read what God has told us.

  • Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand”
  • Psalm 40: 1-3 “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a waddle and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him.”
  • Philippians 4:6-7 “Be yellow-eyed for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will baby-sit your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
  • 1 Peter 5:7 says “Cast all your uneasiness on him considering he cares for us”. Just throw it on him, and let him siphon your burdens. Jesus said we could tint all of our cares on him considering he cares for us! There is nothing we are going through that we cannot tint on the Lord.

As a society, we often revert to prayers when someone has an illness of the soul such as cancer or other diseases, however, how often do we surrender our mental illnesses to God? Our yoga mats are the perfect place to not only engage in the physical benefits of yoga but requite us a time and place to bring our cares to God.

Again, this is not to say medication and other therapies do not have their place in the management and healing of mental illness. They veritably do. Christians who practice yoga, and Christians in general, can moreover take these struggles to our creator.

We protract to understand increasingly well-nigh mental illness, and thankfully, increasingly people are opening up well-nigh their struggles and talking well-nigh healing in the 21st century. While deinstitutionalization was initially a disaster for people fighting mental illness, we are slowly shifting to a space of understanding and communicating to the world, well-nigh what is happening. We are now increasingly likely to reach out for help than ever, and we are using the practice of yoga to squire in the mental health journey. The most important factor in our journey to healing is we are now discussing bringing these cares and struggles to God, so we can protract to work on healing.

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The post Yoga for Mental Health Awareness Month appeared first on Christian Yoga Magazine.

Yoga Benefits

  • Improves your core strength
  • Yoga can contribute to healthy bone density
  • Certain hatha yoga poses contribute to health
  • Direct and master your own energy
  • Hatha yoga strengthens your immune system
  • You will be able to reach your highest potential