The distractions of my day, the apparent defections of my mind (like anxiety, depression, feeling lesser-than, any fear-based conceptual distortions) all melt away as I tune into the moving meditation of the postures. Yoga simplifies my perceptual experience. All I am is my breath and my body. And there I can find peace.
Throughout my life I've tried all sorts of chemical remedies to improve my mental health: doctor-prescribed anti-depressants, anxiety meds, mood stabilizers and sleep aids. I've also relied on alcohol and many other more mood-altering substances to change the way I feel. To improve my mood. To make me feel comfortable in my own skin.
Despite 20+ years of trying these methods, nothing has been as effective as a consistent yoga practice. But what's so profoundly cool and powerful about doing yoga is how it has inspired my health and in other areas of my life.
I can't say that 100% of my anxiety and depression are gone now. But I can say that my mental health and overall quality of life is vastly improved when I work to maintain a strong and consistent yoga practice. Yes, it is work to commit to making it to class several times each week, but over time I've learned to look forward to the 90-minute steamy respites from my overactive brain. And meeting up with the teachers and other students in the studio who are drawn to practice as I do. I've always appreciated how yoga is called a "practice" (never a "perfection"). All it takes is an open mind and some effort. And for me, the benefits far outweigh the costs. Peace of mind is priceless.
Originally posted on Quora 12/7/2014