The International Day of Yoga: A Conversation About Mental Health

The International Day of Yoga has been celebrated annually on the 21st of June, the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. A practice that is physical, mental and spiritual at once, the ancient art of Yoga is said to have originated on Indian shores. With the current climate of uncertainty and violence around the world, mental health issues have come into the focus of the public eye, with mounting stressors leading to an increase in diagnoses of anxiety and depression around the world.

In honour of the International Day of Yoga, we got talking with some our favourite gurus, tribesmen Amitabh Swetta of 1000 Petals, lover of the ocean, Myra Khanna, and practitioner and teacher, Pratik Rajani, as they guide us on the road to mental peace and physical and spiritual awareness.

“Nothing matches the thrill of asanas, the exhilaration we experience when we manage to bend, manoeuvre, and twist our limbs in ways we never thought we could.” Explain Myra and Pratik. “That feeling of watching the world upside down while balancing on our hands, or those glimpses of feeling light as a feather when jumping from one asana to the other. But this is not all that Yoga is, this was never all that Yoga was.”

Beginning their journey practising together about two years ago, Myra and Pratik were drawn to one another for their insatiable hunger of the art, and a need to understand it, and themselves, as intimately as possible.

“For us both, Yoga has moved beyond asanas now, it’s turned into a constant puzzle we’re trying to solve and join the dots through.” The pair elaborate. “The gush of emotions we initially feel while getting onto the mat & ultimately ending our practice with a completely blank, empty yet hyper-aware mind is what we hope to extend into our day beyond the mat. This practice has unknowingly designed the rest of our life for us – from simple things like what we eat, when we sleep to more profound ones like working towards being better versions of ourselves. These changes have taken place in the subtlest of ways, without any rules or restrictions they have become who we are, and this practice is now who we are.”

For Amitabh Shweta of 1000 Petals, the practice of yoga is a pathway to a higher existence, paved with conscientious practice. “Yoga has been always known as a way to meet with Pure unadulterated consciousness. A state of enlightenment, love and bliss.” Amitabh explains. A practitioner of Patanjali Yoga, Amitabh elaborates on the  eight limbs of yoga, also known as Ashtanga. “The eight limbs of Yoga are yama (abstinences), niyama (observances), asana (yoga postures), pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (absorption).

A wellness centre that combines cutting edge scientific technologies and age-old traditional methods of meditation, 1000 Petals offers a unique convergence of art and technology, to aid on the road to ultimate transcendence and mental peace. “For a deeper understanding, self-science and spirituality merges at 1000 Petals to make your Sadhana deeper, to take you deeper into states of Pratyahara (sensory deprivation tanks) Dharana (Lucia no03 hypnagogic Light) and Dhyana (Ancient vigyan bhairava tantra based meditations)”

°Yoga and Mental Health

Widely celebrated for its ability to instil a sense of calm and control over the chaos of the world, both within and without the human body, Yoga and meditation have long been considered holistic (and effective) solutions to debilitating mental-health issues the likes of anxiety and depression.

“Practicing yoga creates a lot of awareness not only of our physical body but also about the nitty-gritties of our mind, who we are when we tackle situations, how we think and how we process events in our life.” Myra and Pratik explain, “Just how overeating can lead to discomfort and ultimately stomach aches and other physical issues, overthinking creates a lot of stress as our brain is constantly running haphazardly with no direction in particular. Stress is the root cause of most ailments and diseases today- we all take on an excess amount of stress and the heap only increases.”

The practices of Yoga, when performed correctly and with the appropriate control over breathing, help build the ability to control our breath and gradually slow it down. “As the breath begins to calm itself, the chaos of thoughts in our mind begin to subside, and a consistent practice teaches us how to distinguish between important thoughts and inconsequential ones” Pratik and Myra explain. “The idea is to establish a constant breath flow resulting in minimized fluctuations of mental activity.”

“With the practice of Yoga (Asana/Pranayama), we firstly understand and become aware of our physical and pranic being.” Amitabh elaborates, “Transcending into self-awareness, we understand our strengths and limitations better and our need separates from greed. From here the journey actually begins to move deeper into the energetic aspect of our physiology and biochemistry.”

°The Meditative State

Arguably the most sought-after aspects of yogic practice in the 21st Century, the Meditative State, or the conscious pursuit of the unconscious, is said to be achieved through hours of diligent practice, and awareness. With the fast-paced, ever-evolving chaos of modern times, however, this state of transcendence, and of ultimate being, is easier imagined than experienced. We asked our Yoga Day gurus to guide us in achieving this abstract, seemingly unattainable state.

“It is difficult to elaborate on or define a meditative state, as it’s a very personal experience and changes from one person to the next.” Myra and Pratik explain. “Meditation does not necessarily mean we have to sit still with our eyes closed for hours at a stretch, that is simply a misconception. A meditative state can be experienced even while the body is in motion.”

“As long as the mind isn’t distracted by external stimuli, undeterred by incoming and outgoing thoughts and the mind isn’t chasing a meditative state. The more we chase, the more we try and experience a state, the more distant that state appears to be.” They elaborate. “Focusing on the present moment, allowing ourselves to give in completely to what we are doing at that point of time without wanting more or less is when one enters a state of consistency which some would consider being in a meditative state.”

Amitabh Shweta’s 1000 Petals is widely celebrated for its unique, technologically forward approach to achieving this state of physical, mental and spiritual being. Watch, as the guru himself guides us through to a meditative state, with his Nadabramha meditation for beginners:

For peace, both inward and outward, and for the achievement of true enlightenment and elevated consciousness, we at TheVibe wish you all a very happy Yoga Day.

The images and media used in this article are courtesy of Myra Kanna, Pratik Rajani and Amitabh Swetta, and belong rightfully to their original owners.


©️ 2020 Gut and Flow Media Pvt. Ltd.

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