What is Yoga?
In the past decade, yoga has exploded into national consciousness, with an estimated 15 million Americans practicing it. Current scientific research has established what yogis have known for centuries: Yoga improves mood, reduces depression and anxiety,and decreases stress.
Yoga, defined as a practice of physical postures, breathing exercises, meditation, and a distinct philosophy, is a psychology in and of itself. It is an inherently transformative practice that changes one’s body, promotes mental clarity, and provides avenues for spiritual development. The Positive Psychology movement, which focuses on people’s strengths and positive emotions, arose in part to counter Western psychology’s traditional focus on psychic pain, negative emotions, and pathology.
Although Positive Psychology is viewed as a “revolutionary new direction,” a similar strength based psychology has been present for thousands of years in the ancient teachings of yoga. Linking the best of modern psychological treatments with ancient yoga practices has the potential to be a powerful new tool to support mental wellness.