Blog – Why Yoga and Ayurveda Recover Mental Illnesses

Why Yoga and Ayurveda Recover Mental Illnesses

Oh no, not another suicide! How many of you have said, “I wish I was dead,” “I wish I had never been born.” I have said this more than once, but never ever thought about seriously taking my own life. As with anything, it is your intention behind your words. 

What is happening to the mindset of humanity? How could something be so bad you eliminate your own life? I know two young people personally in the last year who have taken their lives and one woman in her twenties who is currently on suicide watch. This has really awakened my heart for the need to address Mental Health Awareness.  

Talk about a need to save lives especially since younger people are taking their own life for what reason? Does anybody really know? No, because there is not a single cause for suicide, but there are warning signs to alert us to the behaviors of those who may be contemplating it. We also know that some people are very clever at disguising their true feelings. They will put on different masks for the external world when deep down inside their internal world is crumbling. 

Sucide is the tenth leading cause of death according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Centers for Disease Control. They reported 47,500 people died from suicide in 2019.  One death every eleven minutes. Did you know 12 million people seriously thought about it, 3.5 million constructed a plan to do it and 1.4 million attempted suicide. 

We may never know the answers to why somebody would take their own life and what mindset they were in when it happened. What I do know is Yoga and Ayurveda sciences can recover mental illnesses. Understanding the underlying mechanisms is crucial if we are to find ways to reduce the burden of mental illness.

Why Yoga and Ayurveda? We see how society has accepted and adopted science as an integral part of its structured technology to solve the problems of providing the basic necessities of life and offering a more comfortable life to individuals who trust the science and technology. 

Yoga offers a conscious process in personality development to solve the threatening problems of withdrawal, addictions, traumas, harmful behaviors, moodiness, sleeplessness, depression, suicide and hopelessness. 

Yoga is a systematic and scientific method to be healthier in mind, body and spirit. This ancient holistic health care system addresses the faculties of each individual including the physical, mental, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. 

The physical faculty is taught in our education system offering PE and sports to keep the physical body conditioned. Academics develop the intellect. Genetics also contribute to the intellect. Where are the teachings of complete physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual development education taught beginning from birth?

These sister sciences are a complete holistic health care system to manage health and lifestyle for development in mind, body and spirit.

The specialty of yogic processes is that the faculties are harmoniously refined and nurtured with the spiritual progression of each individual person.

 Here is a taste of just scratching the surface of understanding how these five different faculties work and benefit personality development and spiritual growth for health and wellness in mind, body and spirit.

I have included comments from clients who are benefiting from these practices. Tears of joy and deep appreciation for those who are doing the work to recover from mental illnesses.

I have no hope or freedom in this life,”  said a 53 year old black male in 2019.. Within one year of integrating Yoga and Ayurveda, he told me he now has hope and feels freedom in his life.

Five Benefits of Yoga and Ayurveda

1. Physical– An ideal body is proportionate with all the muscles relaxed in a normal state. All organs and systems function together and maintain homeostasis. Chronic and acute illnesses are managed, alleviated and or eliminated. 

The physical practice of asanas (postures) and movement education focuses on alignment, structural integration and creating space in the joints to improve blood flow and energy. The body receives the necessary strength and stamina through harnessing inner vital energies and training the different organs and systems to work in coordination can be accomplished through these yogic and Ayurveda practices. 

“Practicing yoga movements and their intended results, has a significant impact on me.  Additionally, throughout this time it was found that I have had a highly active enteric nervous system.  The resultant conditions caused many years of physical pain/discomfort and multiple hospitalizations with some lasting over two (2) months at a time.  I found that there was a dearth of information on how to specifically manage dietary dynamics to facilitate enhanced nutritional absorption as well as healing.  However, this was significantly addressed through this Yoga and Ayurvedic program.  In tandem with the movements to address specific needs to strengthen and loosen my physicality, new doors have been opened to spiritual development.”

2. Mental– The two important qualities of the mind is creativity and willpower. Yogic practices enhance creative power and willpower. These are essential requirements for everybody to accomplish any work regardless of how insignificant or great the task may be. 

Yoga’s systematic and conscious process calms down the mind and erases the weaknesses in the mind and builds willpower. Clarity opens the mind for the creative processes to flow. Creativity and Willpower are qualities when developed maintain and sustain mental development.

Sloka in NitiSatakam of Bhartrhari by Swami Paramarthananda  describes three types of people.

  • Fearing possible obstacles and difficulties, the lowest self does not start the work at all.
  • Coming face to face with obstacles one after another the middle self leaves the work uncompleted.
  • The highest self reaches out to complete the tasks in spite of difficulties that torture and crush them all the way through to completion.

Mental state and thoughts have their significant relationship. I found this relationship seems to get over-accentuated with my emotional well-being.  In the past, the easier management tool had been to immerse myself within compensations such as work, life events, senses, and a bit too much alcohol.  Ultimately these compensations lead to an even more unfulfilling life since the primary drivers of internal quality of life were not faced or addressed.”

3. Emotional- Emotions control our behaviors. Yet the development of  our emotional faculties has no place in the education system. Humanity falls victim to the atrocities of life and struggles to overcome the emotional conflicts, obstructions and confusions. The result is deep agony, turmoil and psychosomatic illness. 

Yoga trains us to systematically sharpen and sensitize our emotions consciously to develop the emotional personality and manage the emotional ups and downs. These practices and techniques feed the emotional energy to nurture the development of other faculties as opposed to debilitation and unrest. 

“My first few classes involved meeting Dr. Butterfield, PHD (Cognitive and Behavioral Psychologist) at one of your classes.  We would then converse, at various times, about how each class felt.  Notably, each class tended to be quite an emotional experience – quite an outpouring even inclusive of some very significant tearful releases.  Part of our discussion included how it may seem that our minds move on from an experience; however, our bodies can store the experience.  Part of the seeking included attempting to understand the comparable physical movement associated with its emotional counterpart.”

4. Intellectual Level –  The capacity to analyze and correlate relevant information forms the function of the intellect, concentration is the expression and precision is the outcome. 

Swami Vivekananda emphasized concentration and detachment are the two vital parts of education. Yoga emphasizes the skill to calm down and pacify the mind which brings the capacity to detach from the mind.

While these dynamics describe some of my initial experiences, my yoga path took a significant turn when I began to ask more questions.  Many of these answers came during my initial Ayurveda assessment.  Based on its length, comprehensiveness, and outcome, I was personally drawn into the stark separation between my perception of yoga based upon social discussions and what it actually constitutes.  As our discussions continued into the fundamental forces of nature, the foundational literature of yoga, and the Indian Classical Texts, it became quite clear that there was an abundance of intellectual information to support my emotional and mental quests. “

5. Spiritual Level – The spiritual path of yoga teaches us to find our authentic true self.  The journey begins by turning inward to our internal environment to receive the benefits of spiritual awakening and to know thyself. Yoga leads us to open up our inner spiritual dimensions to foster spiritual growth and manifest our inner divinity of self realization. This leads us to liberation from the ego and embodiment of our Higher Self.

With my experience, it is not possible for me to distinguish the spiritual areas from the others.  One of the profound points of guidance in the yoga literature that helped me find a home, is the focus on how the knowledge of self is a primary stepping point for achieving yoga.  Consequently, I found a natural relationship between the benefit of extensive mental health therapy and it providing a natural segue into the development of a comprehensive yoga practice.  This is based upon the increased in-depth self-knowledge produced as a required pre-cursor.  It also allows for the increase in a holistic personal quality of life by implementing further internal exploration through extending the yoga practice with meditation.”



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