By veenau, 10-May-2013 15:38:00
Thanks to the Satyananda Yoga Centre, Thurleigh Road, London for displaying this quote
By veenau, 10-May-2013 09:16:00
Since the year 2000 through campaigns run as part of Mental Health Awareness Week, the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) has raised awareness of a variety of mental health and wellbeing issues – including fear and anxiety, loneliness, work-life balance and how doing good can do you good.
This year they are campaigning around the theme of physical activity and exercise, highlighting the capacity of both to enhance quality of life and happiness and reduce mental illness. Whilst many of us use physical activity and exercise as a means to maintain or improve physical health, it’s important to recognise how they can positively impact mental health as well; in fact one of the big aims of the campaign is to shift motivation for physical activity as something we choose to do to increase our wellbeing.
Of particular interest to me is how yoga fares in its ability to improve measures related to mental health. In a paper published in 2010, Ross provides a review of the scientific literature that has compared research studies investigating the effectiveness of yoga and exercise on a variety of health outcomes. She concluded that yoga interventions appeared to be equal and in some cases superior to exercise across many of the outcomes measured including stress, sleep disturbance, quality of life and fatigue. Whilst some of these studies were not rigorous in their methodology, the review nevertheless provides a good basis for further investigation of yoga and the health benefits it can provide.
The paper is available for free here.
In a randomised control trial carried out by Streeter (2010) at Boston University School of Medicine, a 12 week yoga intervention was associated with greater improvements in mood and anxiety in comparison to a metabolically matched walking exercise. Additionally, the study observed positive correlations between improved mood and decreased anxiety and levels of a neurotransmitter in the brain called GABA i.e. where there was greater improved mood and greater reduction of anxiety this was coupled with higher levels of GABA. This was something that the authors had expected given that medication targeting increasing activity of the GABA system is often prescribed for improving mood and decreasing anxiety. What’s so groundbreaking about this study is the suggestion of a possible role for GABA in bringing about the beneficial effects of yoga on mood and anxiety. Streeter’s paper is available for free via Pubmed here
Whilst I have a particular interest in yoga interventions, I’m for anything that can help bring about enhanced wellbeing - any exercise is good and if you’re not sure where to begin, go with little and often. If you need some support to get yourself started the MHF community have loads of things going on around the UK: sports days, football matches, physical activity taster sessions, even a “Bonkers Bike Ride”. You can check out what’s going on in your area here
So go on – get involved!
By veenau, 08-Apr-2013 14:56:00
This little gem was doing the social network rounds last year and I often come back to it when I need some clarity – I consider it to be one of the most inspiring pieces that I’ve been fortunate enough to have come my way. Alan Watts (1915-1972) a British born philosopher, writer and speaker authored many books including “The Way of Zen” and “Psychotherapy East and West”. He became a leading interpreter of Eastern philosophy for the West. In this short clip he considers the question “what would you do if money was no object?”
Now, I know it’s not feasible to assume we can all up and leave the daily grind to go off and do what we like whenever we like, however we can take small steps to making time for the things that we like doing. But we really shouldn’t have to make the effort to do the stuff we like, wouldn’t we just do it? Seems not. We’re becoming so time pressured that doing the things that make us happy seem to have slipped off the radar. So take a moment to recall the things that give you joy – going for a run, seeing a show, spending time with family and friends – whatever it is, and schedule it in, because if you wait for when things are not so busy/you have the time, the likelihood is it’ll never happen. Make it happen. Go on, do it now.
By veenau, 08-Apr-2013 14:06:00
Hats off to the Barbican and Wellcome Trust who have collaborated on a wonderful season of events bringing together neuroscience and the arts.
Featuring a fascinating street fair, performance, talks, interaction and demonstrations, “Wonder: Art and Science on the Brain” brings together organisations from both neuroscience - the study of the brain and nervous system - and the arts, specifically visual arts, music, theatre, performance and film. Both these fields draw upon the understanding of human emotion, thought, behaviour and expression and this season of events very nicely demonstrates the growing relationship between the two.
I’m particularly impressed at how Wonder: Art and Science on the Brain has succeeded in making neuroscience accessible to all and look forward to more collaborations of this nature from the Barbican and Wellcome Trust.
It's almost over but there's still a chance to catch it - you can find more information on the Barbican website.
By veenau, 21-Mar-2013 15:01:00
In doing the work that I do I am constantly astounded at the strength of character displayed by individuals facing incredible challenges with their emotional and mental health. I feel especially fortunate to have crossed paths with Ian Price who, after a long battle with depression managed to find his way back from the edge of suicide. With incredible commitment to spreading his story with the intention of providing hope and support for others, Ian has harnessed his talent for garden design to create a garden that reflects his journey to the brink and back, particularly poignant as it was his love of and flare for gardening that was instrumental in Ian returning to health.
I am privileged to be helping Ian to spread the message of hope that there are ways back from suicide and to be a part of his amazing creation “One 4 the Journey” that will be built and on show at the RHS Royal Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in July 2013.
I think Ian’s story is valuable for many reasons, but in particular in emphasising how important it is to talk about this stuff so as to limit the isolational aspects of feeling suicidal – and this is something we can all do. So please don’t shy away or feel afraid, reach out – it may well be that providing a listening ear could really make the difference for someone.
You can read Ian’s story here:
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