Source: The Hitavada      Date: 20 Aug 2018 15:46:20



By Lisa Antao

W ith the influx of technology and social media, we have started leading a frenetic pace of life that takes a toll on our mind and body. Due to longer working hours, higher stress levels and imbalance between personal and professional lives, the number ofpeoplesufferingfromdepression and anxiety is on the rise. While some of them seek professionalhelpandundergotherapy, others have now started taking solace in yoga and incorporating it in their lifestyle. This traditional form of exercise, which is known for developing a toned body and increasing flexibility, is finding favour as an alternative therapy. It notonlyhelps tocalmfrayednerves but also aids in developing a positive outlook and controlling one’s negative emotions. RadhikaVachani, author of Just Breathe, Founder of Yogacara, and a practitioner of IyengarYoga for the last 17 years, says that mental illnesses often occur from a chaotic and undisciplined mind. She says, The mind is the cause of experiences of pain and pleasure.

Our thoughts affect our emotions which, in turn, affect our actions. To seek relief, people turn to excessive eating, drugs, and alcohol. However, these can only provide temporary relief. If we want to feel good and be happy, then we must strive to bring order to our minds. This can be done by training it to be present and alert, but it requires a tremendous amount of discipline and commitment.” In the Iyengar methodology, one learns to build mindfulness by working on their muscular structure. Along with this, Radhika uses simple breath awareness meditation and pranayama practices to help people align their mind and body.

Soon, the participants become aware of all their negative thought processes and learn to change how they think and feel. Around 60 per cent of her students suffer from high levels of stress and anxiety. About 30 per cent deal with depression, addictions, and some also have suicidal thoughts. The age group ranges from the early 20s to mid-50s and includes students, entrepreneurs, working professionals and homemakers. The process of healing takes a minimum of three months and consists of three to four yoga sessions per week. But, if you stop practicing, you will get back to square one.

So, you need to follow consistently what you have learnt,” adds Radhika. Shweta D’Souza, a former dancer choreographer, who is trained in Ashtanga and VinayasaYoga, states that about 40-45 per cent of her clients who are battling anxiety and depression seek yoga as therapy. Most of them are in the age group of 30 to 50. In recent times, individuals who are in their early and late teens have also started to practice it. Ashtanga Yoga and meditation is what I teach when required. Each class is designed specifically to cater to their specific needs,” she explains. VISITING MENTAL HEALTH EXPERTS STILL A TABOO I have had clients who have been suggested yoga as therapy by medical professionals. Though the percentage of those who come on their own is higher.

Not many people in India seek professional help from psychologists and mental health experts as it is still considered a taboo. It’s also not a cheap option. Yoga, on the other hand, helps them to de-stress and has mental as well as physical benefits,” says Shweta. Personal yoga trainer, Naval Sikhwal, has been teaching people from all walks of life for 16 years now. He says that three out of his 10 clients, too, suffer from mental ailments. Today, people face a lot of stress due to work, family, relationships, disturbed sleep and so on. Usually, they aren’t aware of the problems they face and are taken to counsellors by their family members. They are then advised to take up yoga and meditation. To deal with such clients, I use a combination of different types of pranayama, meditation and Deep Relaxation Technique (DRT) which helps them calm their minds,” he says. (