Written by Minah Yoo, Canadian Certified Counselor
The modern world encourages people to spend much more time on doing than being. From the moment we wake up in the morning we are often busy focusing on completing tasks until we finally go to bed. Very little time is spent on appreciating ourselves through the use of self-acceptance and self-compassion.
Based on my experience as a mental health professional, I’ve learned that many people live under the pressure to be productive all the time. In fact, our society tells us that we constantly need to produce and not waste any of our potential, time, and energy because everyone is doing the same on their respective treadmill. It is like a competition where you need to win in order to increase or maintain your self-worth. The sense of self-worth is dependent on how much you can do in how little time.
The imbalance between the two, where the doing is much more emphasized than the being, may create problems simply because we are not robots. The possible consequences of pushing ourselves too hard includes developing physical fatigue, burnout, and eventually physical and mental health conditions.
How can we then balance the two?
One of the activities that will allow you to engage in both being and doing is yoga because “being kinder and gentler to oneself and others is the part of the practice on and off the mat” (Farah M. Shroff, 2017). By practicing asana (postures), dhyana (meditation), pranayama (breathing), and more, our physical body and mind are respected and cared for. The religious text Patanjali Sutras states that “yoga is the practice of quieting the mind,” giving people a chance to feel in control by managing their worries.
Although the relation between yoga and mental health is a relatively new area of research, Shroff reviewed 30 articles, and found that there have been positive results on yoga for mental health disorders, especially for depression. Moreover, yoga can be equally effective as tricyclic antidepressants for people who have major depressive disorder (Shroff, 2017). If you struggle with feelings of anxiety and/or sadness, multiple studies conclude that yoga can be helpful.
If you are not sure where to start, check out a Youtuber by typing “Yoga with Adriene”. She is an amazing and calm yogi, and her page provides various yoga videos including yoga for depression & stress, and yoga for anxiety.
Yoga is for everyone. If you are interested in focusing a little more attention on being rather than doing, why not give it a try and see how yoga benefits you.