Mindfulness Matters

On June 15, 2016, over 100 people took a pause in their week to practice yoga in support of mental health awareness and suicide prevention.  There were many more who could not be there, but generously donated.  With your help, we raised over $8500 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  Thank you to Jill Ganassi for cultivating a sense of honesty and acceptance around what can otherwise be a lonely struggle of life with mental illness.

In our second year collaborating on this event, I feel truly blessed and inspired to be part of this community.  Who knew that when we started out in a one room space in Tuckahoe, 18 years later, this is where we’d be.  Each one of you is an essential piece of what make Yoga Haven the vibrant community it is.  THANK YOU!

Bring Change 2 Mind


•  Be Here Now, Ram Dass
• Life, Jon Kabat-Zin
• Loving Kindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness, Sharon Salzberg
• Mindsight, Dr. Daniel, J. Siegel
• The Miracle of Mindfulness, Thich Nhat Hanh
• Wherever You Go There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday
• When Things Fall Apart, Pema Chodron

There are also a number of mindfulness apps for the phone.  Check it out!

Facts about suicide:
• In 2013 there were 41,149 suicides reported and 494,169 people hospitalized for self harming.

• Approximately 13 people per 100,000 die by suicide.

• It is the 10th leading cause of death in the US., that is approximately one person every 13 minutes that die by suicide.

Risk factors include but are not limited to clinical depression, anxiety disorders, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, other psychotic disorders, substance abuse, chronic health and/or pain conditions, bullying, loneliness, isolation, abuse.

We want to cultivate the open examination and dialogue around this issue, so as to decrease the stigma and shame associated with mental illness.  We want people to feel comfortable seeking out yoga not just for fitness of the body, but fitness of the mind and emotions.  While yoga has been known for all of it’s therapeutic effects for 1000′s of years in India, it is now finally being accepted by western medical science for it’s physiological benefits and for all of the ways it can prevent illness and support the healing and cure of many disorders and illnesses.  Yoga is now actively being used as a modality of treatment in the field of both psychology and medicine.  It is one powerful tool amongst many to reduce our suffering and help us live healthier and happier lives.

The number of studies showing highly measurable positive effects of yoga is growing yearly now.  These studies measured and have shown benefits in comparison to more traditional treatment regimens.  Major institutions, hospitals and universities, and government bodies are included in those performing rigorous testing and studies on the effectiveness of yoga.  Even the Department of Defense is officially using a yoga program called “iRest”, developed by a clinical psychologist, to help treat PTSD in returning active duty vets in VA hospitals in Chicago, Miami, and Washington DC.  The latest figures show that 15 – 20 million people in the US are benefiting from yoga and we want to encourage the targeted use of this tool to help those suffering with mental illness.

One of the simple explanations of how yoga helps to improves mental health, is that it inhibits the physiological and physiological process of the stress response – “fight or flight”.  This response is correlated to anxiety and depression, PTSD, heart disease and diabetes all of which are at epidemic proportions in our country, along with other mental and physical health problems.  Yoga promotes the relaxation response which is directly correlated to improved health outcomes and the reduction of illness.

A major component of yoga is the practice of mindfulness.  Mindfulness is the practice of doing what you are doing while you are doing it – and only that.  By being fully present, you are able to cultivate a non-judgemental, compassionate awareness of ones self, in the present moment.  Cultivating mindfulness while feeling and moving your body, consciously breathing, and then being still, you learn to RELAX and be present.  In this state of calm, equilibrium starts to show up in other situations in life, including stressful situations.  This promotes a feeling of empowerment, a healthy sense of internal control, and self esteem.

A specific list of yoga benefits include, but are not limited to: reduction in symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, neurosis, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), bipolar disorder, impulse control, self destructive and self harming behaviors, improved mood and improved relationships, improved physical health, and improved emotional stability.  Yoga also improves conditions of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, insomnia, high blood pressure, hypertension, digestive diseases.  There is a decrease of cortisol levels (and other hormones associated with negative mind states), increase of GABA (and other neurotransmitters associated with positive mind states).  ANYONE can do yoga, young, old, sick, healthy, tight as a drum, loose as a goose.  If you are interested email info@yogahaven.com.