Is your yoga practice a vehicle for mental health and self-actualization or are you content with just doing the physical practice?
Yoga was originally intended to be a practice to facilitate self-actualization, meaning to realize who you are and being comfortable being you. More recently in the western yoga world, there has been a separation between physical development and spiritual development. Social media has defined yoga as cool physical postures. Yet, do not be fooled into believing that you will be self-actualized by only practicing asana. Asana is only one of the eight limbs, and a healthy body means nothing without a healthy mind.
The definition of mental health according to the World Health Organization (“WHO”) is:…show more content… There are many benefits from doing the physical practice, including improved overall physical fitness, stress relief, and a reduction in anxiety and depression. But how can your yoga practice be an instrument for self-actualization?
First of all, motivation is important. You have to want more. Without the desire to grow and learn, self-actualization will not occur. That motivation often comes from being in a place where nothing else is working. A time when you have tried everything else, and still you do not feel fulfilled.
The Trifecta Approach
There is a combination that will help you on your path towards fulfillment through self-actualization. I call it the trifecta approach. Here are the three key methods that work together to facilitate mental health and a life fully lived.
1. Yoga Practice: Find the right yoga teacher who supports your individual development beyond the physical asana.
2. Meditate: Develop a solid sitting practice. This more subtle practice will strengthen your ability to observe all mental activity.
3. Psychotherapy: Find a good therapist who will see you, hear you, support you, and guide you through your own transformation, and who will encourage you to keep at it.
This may seem like a complex combination, but here is a case that demonstrates the trifecta’s approach in action.
Alex is a dedicated yoga practitioner. For over 10 years, she rolled out her mat