As a challenging yet trendy way to exercise the body, yoga has been a holistic approach to taking care of the body, mind, and spirit for thousands of years. Although rooted in Hinduism, the practice of yoga has appeared in various forms in Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity, and also crosses beyond religion, as a mechanism to practice mindfulness.
While many seek its physical benefits, psychologists are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of yoga and yoga-based therapies for people suffering from mood disorders including, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is slowly moving away from being labeled as alternative medicine and more accepted as a form of psychotherapy (Harvard University, American Psychological Association).
At Camp Aftermath, we aim to introduce yoga as one of the activities available to participants. Aftermath Association’s volunteer, Shaunese Hoek, can speak personally about the benefits of yoga to mental health, saying, “Yoga as a practice is physically challenging but very rewarding. As a sufferer of anxiety disorder, I often find myself with a million thoughts in my head and no way to shut-down. I started attending yoga classes on a whim but quickly found myself enjoying it because of the soothing atmosphere! Over time I came to realize that yoga is not a quick win, it takes commitment to progress and progression itself is limited by self-awareness. For example, you can’t succeed at one of the first arm balancing poses, Crow, without building up your physical strength, overcoming your aversion to falling on your face, and shutting out the rest of the world and focusing on yourself – body, mind and spirit. I finally found a way to channel my energy away from negative thoughts and into tangible measures of self-success, and I highly recommend that everybody give it a shot!”
For those who would like to try yoga in Ottawa (where Camp Aftermath volunteers are based), there are a variety of different cost options to get started.
- Every Wednesday beginning at 12 pm, there is a free one-hour session of yoga outdoors on Parliament Hill taught by local, qualified instructors (weather and festivities permitting).
- Many studios allow paying members to bring a friend for a free or low-cost trial class.
- Look for yoga studio stands at local events and markets as they often hand out coupons for free classes.
- Many yoga studios offer discounted introductory months where new students can attend unlimited classes for an average of $40-50.
- Summertime marks yoga festival time with a variety of offerings throughout Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec. City of Om, Emerge Festival and Wanderlust are among the largest.
For more information about International Yoga Day, please visit www.idayofyoga.org.