What do you think about when you hear the words ‘mental health’? Maybe you think about all those news reports and the scary statistics that seem to be at an all time high or maybe you find yourself thinking about a family member or a friend thats having a hard time. But what if we changed the words 'mental health’ to ‘mental wellbeing’, do the connotations change? These two words in fact are synonymous, we all have mental health or if you’d rather mental wellbeing and we all have a duty to ask ourselves- are we doing things that contribute positively or negatively to our overall health and wellbeing.
Am I getting enough sleep?
Am I setting aside enough time to do things that I enjoy?
Am I giving my body the things it needs?
All these interlacing components are important in keeping our bodies and minds happy and healthy.
How can yoga contribute to a happy mind and body?
Sleep: Sleep is more than simply closing your eyes, laying down and hoping for the best, it’s paramount in helping our internal systems repair and rejuvenate. When we suffer through interrupted sleep or brains cant do the necessary things it needs to in order to keep our bodily functions running smoothly such as our motor skills which effect things like digestion, memory retention and pain perception.
We know how important sleep is and how hard it can be to switch our brains off. In our hour yoga sessions we give you the opportunity to let the days worries and complexities go and help you focus inward so that you can clear the mind and open the senses in a relaxed and safe environment.
Meditation: Meditation is increasingly becoming more popular as a method for stress and anxiety reduction. It has been proven that two minutes a day of meditation can promote positive emotional health, reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety, enhance self awareness, lengthen attention spans and reduce age related memory loss.
We offer guided mediation during our yoga session where we can help you identify the spiritual and the emotional, the mind and the body. We encourage you to assess how each is feeling from start to finish with focus and thoughtfulness.
We interviewed our very own super volunteer Sian who is on her own personal mental wellbeing journey. Here she talks openly about yoga being an important part of that journey.
What challenges are you working with?
I was diagnosed with cyclothymia with a form of bi-polar. I can rapidly cycle between Hypermania and Depression through the day. When I am having a manic episode I can go days without sleep, this is caused by racing thoughts and feelings, quick boredom and a need to keep myself moving at all times which sometimes involves pacing for hours. I needed a form of exercise that wasn’t high intensity, that could settle my mind and encourage focus. I started coming to your class with the hope that I could give myself an emotional rather a purply physical outlet and I couldn’t have hoped for better results. I found that not only during but after the class my mind was no longer screaming at me. I’m able to sit still, listen to instruction and focus. The energy of the teachers and the other students allow me to feel calm settled. After the first couple of classes I found that I was tired and able to sleep for a number of hours without interruption. At first I thought it was a fluke but after a number of weeks of joining your classes my sleep pattern was transformed which had a positive effect on my mood disorder. I found with the right amount of sleep I was having less hypersonic episodes.
Describe our classes?
Sometimes I can come in feeling chaotic, like I’m bursting to the brim and when I leave I have a sense of a settled emptiness. On the flip side I have come to your class feeling anxious and low, and when I leave I feel like the emptiness has been filled with this lovely warm energy, making me feel whole.
I can also admit that I feel uncomfortable with free flow movement, I naturally hold myself in a tensed and strained manner having spent time focusing on this in class I now find I’m able to identify the stress that has built up in my muscles and I’m able to let it go. I think this is a form of mindfulness. Usually you just assume that mindfulness is just about your emotional state but you forget that your emotional state can also be seen and felt thought the body and muscles.
What results are you seeking of getting from yoga?
I think doing yoga is like going on a journey, its about connection and energy and breath. Most of the time I’m in a rush to get somewhere or do something but I leave class with this wonderful sense of time stretching to my whims. My breath is slower, my movements more purposeful and my mind open. I want to feel that all the time.