Mental Wellness. What does that even mean? These days terms like mental health, mental wellness, mental this, mental that have been commonly interchanged.
The World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” (1) Mental wellness is therefore, a state of being in good mental health.
Good to know, but how do I do that?
As a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Yoga teacher, I work with people every day to achieve mental wellness and to try to find a much happier life. There are many different ways to do this. I highly recommend therapy for people that are struggling with their mental health, but yoga is also a great way to find wellness.
Yoga literally means “to yoke”. Yoga helps to connect our mind, body and spirit that become disconnected during times of stress, loss, sadness, anxiety and even everyday life! In the yoga practice, we utilize pranayama, which is our breath control, to ground us. Breath work helps us to shift out of our sympathetic nervous system, which can become triggered during times of stress and send us into fight, flight or freeze mode. When that shift happens, we are now in our parasympathetic nervous system where we can find calmness, awareness and be present in the moment. That is where the magic happens.
Magic? What magic?
Yoga integrates asanas (postures), pranayama (breath control) and dhyana (meditation) to find peace within ourselves. When we are anxious, we are sitting in our fears about the future, which we can’t control in this moment. We also can’t control what has already happened. As we learn being very busy people, we can’t be in more than one place at a time. So, how can our mind be healthy and also be in the past, present and future? It can’t. It’s too much. When we can be present and let go of what we do not need, we are more aware of our surroundings, can find gratitude in the small things and work toward mental wellness.
Hope you can join me in embracing the present moment at Syracuse Yoga!
Resources: (1) https://myhealth.uncc.edu/mental-wellness