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YogMantra | How Weeks of Yogic Care Helped Me Win Over My Mental Health Battles – News18


Trauma from unforeseen events such as a loss of any kind, a serious health diagnosis, or betrayal can cause a mental setback and even the strongest amongst us are likely to buckle under prolonged exposure to multiple stressors.

Prescribed drugs are the conventional treatment for mental health issues but as most of them have not shown satisfactory results, the search for options continues.

Amid this search, arises a question — When Yoga can help prevent illness by keeping the mind calm, can it also be a cure for mental health issues that have already arisen?

My Experience

Dealing with a chronic illness for nearly two decades, and that too one whose treatment is worse than the disease itself, was challenging and life-altering in many ways. Nevertheless, all along I thought I was handling the psychological aspect well.

This was until I was diagnosed with depression, and then anxiety, and later panic attacks — at three different points in time.

Clueless, and a bit shocked, I would take the prescribed drugs, avoid ‘triggers’ and do all the right things. But nothing much changed. Advice to ‘do Yoga and meditation’ came aplenty and I found it frustrating. The fact is, it is difficult to do these while one is anxious or depressed. My experience is that one would not want to do it at all and simply find everything irritating. While my issues were still mild to moderate, life was manageable.

Combination of Homeopathy & Yoga to the Rescue

One time, sensing that things were getting more intense, I finally visited a senior homeopathic doctor. Three months of taking his remedies steadily led me to a calm place. Now, I was enthusiastic about Yoga, knowing that was the only thing that would tackle my issues, lastingly.

We had heard of a Yoga Institute where they treated people holistically i.e. with a regimen that addressed all five layers of existence — the ‘koshas’. After making enquiries, I attended their general health programme for a few weeks. The next time, I tried out another similar Yoga school. There are several such Institutions across the country; some of them also partners of the Ministry of AYUSH.

How Attending Established Yoga School Programmes Helps

First, the large campuses have an atmosphere that is uplifting and exudes cheerfulness. The air is charged with higher vibrations from chants and breath-work, and then there’s the daily routine that begins in the wee hours of the morning and finishes after dinner.

The Full Yoga Routine and Experience

Each layer of existence is addressed for its proper functioning through the day-long programme. In this immersive experience, we are thinking, talking, breathing, eating, sleeping, and singing Yoga.

When the long sessions of Asanas or Pranayamas start flowing easily, it feels like an achievement. Prayers, chants and bhajans sung with gusto in large groups provide succour to the soul.

Functions, seminars and other events related to Yoga and allied sciences are often eye-openers. I remember my idea of the world expanded suddenly and I once again wanted to be a creative, throbbing, alive unit in this world.

Karma-yoga or helping in the kitchen, gardening or maintaining cleanliness, which is an integral part of the routine in such places, is extremely effective in controlling excessive restlessness of the mind.

Holistic Approach — Addressing the 5 Layers of Existence

‘Total Yoga’ does the appropriate thing at each of the five layers. These ashram-schools usually have the wherewithal to do that in a single place.

For example, for my panic attacks, the daily regimen worked out by the head doctor in-charge included Acupressure, Ayurvedic massages, board games, singing bhajans and listening to lectures — apart from the regular Asanas, Pranayamas and walks in the huge campus.

All the required facilities were within the campus and under the daily supervision of my doctors and Yoga therapists.

There’s Counselling, and then there’s Yogic Counselling

Trained, experienced counselors, grounded and compassionate, are available for help. The revelation, though, were the senior counselors in these places. I realised the source of their accurate counsel was their long Yoga practice, and also thoroughness with scriptural wisdom, which at once sets them apart in that they are able to segregate everyone’s issues into categories.

These are some of the most widely-traveled, yet down-to-earth, approachable and normal people I have seen. Their knowledge, wit, and the ability to make quick connections makes their counseling an effortless process. With decades of experience added to the mix, they are incomparable to any counselor or therapist I have been to before.

I learnt then of the concept of ‘Yogic Counselling’, which goes beyond regular counseling in many ways.

‘Yogic Holidays’ at Regular Intervals are a Potential Cure

I would go for these long stays at Yoga schools with no specific expectations; I followed the routines and prescriptions with faith and enthusiasm.

I have done three such 2-3 week stays, approximately 7-8 months apart. Each time I returned, it was as if the devils had all been slain.

There were also two larger gains: One, each time my Relaxation practice got deepened; and two, seeing how people were so motivated and tirelessly working to reduce others’ suffering energised me.

Earlier this year, I noticed with some surprise that I hadn’t had panic attacks nor anxiety issues in quite some time — something that had been chronic for years. I knew then that a change had occurred in my mental health status.

Today’s piece details the author’s personal experience in using Yoga to deal with mental health issues. The author is a journalist, cancer survivor and certified Yoga teacher. She can be reached at swatikamal@gmail.com.



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