Mental Health Yoga

What is yoga for mental health?

It is an approach to yoga that emphasizes working with principles and practices of psychotherapy and psychology to help foster mental health.  There are specific factors that are required for most of us to create and sustain mental wellness and these can all be practiced and embodied through yoga.  When I realized this I’ve spent the last 10 years understanding the mechanisms behind sound mental health principles and how they can be employed in yoga.

How do I learn these principles and practices?

I am in the midst of developing an ebook and other online content to share these principles more broadly.  I have been teaching yoga locally in Alberta for 15 years and have focused solely on improving the mental health of my students for the last decade.

What are some of the central tenets of yoga for mental health?

The ability to self regulate our stress states, process emotion and be in a positive relationship with ourselves are some examples of what is required for mental wellness.  These things and others can be practiced and embodied through yoga very effectively.  I’ve often heard people wonder how to move from mental health concepts from ideas to living realities.  The way of practicing yoga that I’m espousing is a way to do this.

Why does yoga for mental health matter?

Yoga is often performed in the West with a physical obsession. The form of yoga has become a commodity, an art form, a science, a product, a workout.  Working with the body can be so much more than this.  The body is the gateway to the psyche, our mental and emotional states are expressed through our physical form, gesture and feeling.  Working with body through yoga is a way to access our psychology and work effectively with it.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
Meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
— Jelaluddin Rumi,
 translation by Coleman Barks