'Happiness is when... what you think, what you say and what you do, are in harmony' Mahatma Gandhi
It isn't always easy to find true happiness. There are so many demands placed upon us. Family, friends, work... not to mention the often unrealistic expectations we have of ourselves. Any or all of these, can leave us feeling frazzled, with our 'inner critic' in over-drive. How many times do we say to ourselves... I must do this, I should have done that, I need to do? Probably, far too often for our own good.
Like physical health, good mental health, a healthy mind, isn't always a given. When we feel stretched to our limit and our emotional resilience is compromised, it indicates that it's time to take those first positive steps back to good mental health. Taking time out to reflect on where we are and where we would like to be, is always a good starting point. In the words of Rumi, 'when you let go of who you are, you become who you might be'.
Whilst you might not want to let go of yourself entirely, it can be helpful to think about what you like about your life and the stuff you feel challenged by. Taking time to get to know ourselves better, to understand our own needs and how we might satisfy those needs, can be the first positive steps to good mental health.
Good mental health, can also have a significant impact on our physical health. Have you noticed how health niggles start to increase, when you see a decline in your mental health? Sustained periods or stress, anxiety and depression affect the balance of hormones secreted in the body, depleting our system. Disturbed sleep, less exercise and a change in diet, can cause a range of minor health issues, along with a worsening of symptoms, for anyone living with chronic health conditions, such as IBS, CFS/ME or fibromyalgia. To name but a few!
How can yoga help?
Like most things in life, we are all different, so there's no 'one size fits all' approach to good mental health. Part of our journey back to a healthy mind, is understanding how we arrived where we are. That may be as a result of a single event - grief, trauma, giving birth, the breakdown of a relationship - or perhaps, a build up of different things over a long period of time.
Simple yoga practices help to balance the nervous system - reducing stress and anxiety levels, lifting low mood or depression and improving vagal tone - along with creating much needed time for self reflection. This might include physical postures (asana), breathing practices (pranayama), guided deep relaxation, meditation and techniques from the mindfulness tradition. Practices tailored to your mental health, bring the body and mind back into balance, improving your mood and relieving some of the physical symptoms of compromised mental health.
When we feel well, we're more likely to be able to identify the things that are causing us to feel unwell and we can then look at ways of reducing their impact on our lives. Creating space, to assess situations more clearly and looking at our response to those situations, can be incredibly useful. Over time, we might be able to reduce their impact or we may chose to distance ourselves from a particular situation.
With greater emotional resilience, we're in a better position to cope with whatever life throws at us. On the one hand, accepting and finding ways to deal with the challenges that arise. On the other, opening ourselves up to grab the opportunities that come our way.
What does the course involve?
The Yoga for a Healthy Mind course, is suitable for everyone from complete beginners to experienced yoga students. Along with being taught yoga practices to help manage the effects of stress, anxiety, depression and PTSD, you will be encouraged to observe the activity of the mind as a way of bringing greater awareness and clarity to your thoughts.
The course is open to people of all genders, over 16 years of age. Taught over five weeks, you will learn about the nervous system and how yoga can be used to bring us back to balance. Each class includes time for discussion around the theme, feedback on suggested home practice and a guided yoga class. Practices are simple and accessible to all, and will include yoga postures, breath awareness, deep relaxation, simple meditation and mindfulness practices.
The course also includes a series of handouts and audio recordings, to support your journey back to a healthy mind.
Upcoming Course Dates
In Autumn/Winter 2020 courses will run in Todmorden and Hebden Bridge.
Hebden Bridge - starts Tuesday 10th November, each class will run from 7:00-9:00pm - Heptonstall Bowling Club, Acre Lane, Heptonstall, HX7 7LT.
Todmorden - start date TBC, each class will run from 9:30-11:30am - The Todfellows Space, Oxford Street, Todmorden OL14 5PU.
If you would like to discuss the course in more detail, please get in touch on 07443 602108 or by email email@example.com.
The course costs £75 and must be booked in advance.
COVID-19 Safety Measures - This course will be taught in-person. Please ensure you are familiar with this information before booking your space and attending your first session.
At the end of this course many students find it helpful to continue with a regular yoga practice, either in class or at home. If you would like to chat about suitable options, please let me know. Don’t feel ready? You’re welcome to attend the course again if you feel it would be helpful.
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