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Yoga for Mental Health

by Tammy Lorraine Majchrzak(more info)

listed in yoga, originally published in issue 137 - July 2007

Meditation Pose

How to Find Balance from Within Using an Ancient Tool

Off I went, newly married, to accompany my husband to Osnabruck, Germany, as he was in the Royal Military Police. I did not know what lay in front of me, but was full of excitement, a little nervous but also could not wait to begin my new life. After being in Germany for three months, my husband was rushed off to serve in Bosnia. There I was, 21 and left to fend for myself and to try and handle dozens of Army wives! As the weeks went by I found myself unable to sleep, very nervous and quite alone at times in a strange country; not really knowing anyone and missing home. I began to get migraines up to two a day. This I put down to being very tense and anxious; living on my own and trying to cope, so far away from the life I had known. The weeks passed and I wasn’t aware how my mental health was deteriorating. I tried to mix in with people, but when you are a young wife of a Regimental Sergeant Major, life isn’t that easy. You are expected to look after other wives, offer them support and show the good old British stiff upper lip. My alarm bells rang when the migraines got worse. I had to eventually see the Army GP and go on tablets. As I wasn’t one for medication, it didn’t sit very well with me having to take medicine, but I knew I had to. My migraines had got so bad that I was having them in my dreams! My dreams became ‘painful’, and the nightmares began. On a rare ‘good day’ I would venture out the house, as after about two months of my husband being away, I was becoming very reclusive and very repetitive in my habits just managing the days. One such day, I took a trip out to the local NAAFI and came across a Yoga video. I don’t know what drew me to it, but I bought it, got home and put on my sports kit. I then sat in front of the television, incense burning and curtains drawn. I had also been having bad backaches, a result of sleeping too much and also an old bike injury in 1976. Anyway, in went the video; I did not know what to expect, but I began to follow the instructions given. One of the postures Paschimotasana, which involved taking the head to the knees and closing down the body, gave me a really funny sensation. My back clicked and I thought ‘oh no, I will be stuck in this position’ but, to my amazement when I sat up slowly I felt a great release. I repeated the posture, working slowly and cautiously, trying to unwind and, I have to say, from that very moment my life changed and Yoga became my best friend!


The forward motion of this posture calmed my mind; it also relaxed my back and really opened up my body. It was as if I was being stretched and getting rid of old cobwebs. I felt an instant ‘release’ in my upper back, neck and shoulders. My headache seemed to subside, and I felt very ‘open’ and ‘relaxed’. Feelings I had not felt before.

Benefits of Yoga – How It Helped Me

As I progressed with the video and postures and became familiar with them, Yoga became a part of my every day routine. It still is now, and I use it to balance, calm and revive me. Yoga not only has an effect on the body, but also the mind and spirit, bringing with it many calming effects not just on a physical level but also on a spiritual level. Yoga can help to ground us, to balance us from within. The postures work on body muscle, tissues, nerves and organs, massaging and reviving, squeezing out toxins, and bringing us to our very core, the essence of our being. This, for me, was very profound. I found that regular practise helped to calm my mind and body, almost like an elixir, ridding me of mental chatter, anxiety and stress. I found the following postures particularly beneficial, and as I worked with them over a period of time, I would deepen into relaxation, into a place where my mind, for a while, could be free from noise, chit chat and stress.

I also found that as I worked with the postures my anxiety and tensions began to release. I had lived in anxiety and stress for many months, worrying at night about burglars, also what people were thinking as I was on my own, living in a strange place alone; there was a great deal of mental anguish and, at times, I was not coping well at all. Yoga, for me, became a coping mechanism; it not only worked to tone and stretch my body, but also to balance my mind. My regular morning and evening workouts became a ‘must’ as my body and mind relaxed and ‘remembered’ the feeling experienced when practising. After a few short months, I was literally a new person. My frustrations and fears released with posture work, especially the balancing postures that worked from within and also on my stamina. I found these the best postures for burning up mental tension/anxiety. I would then finish with calming meditation work, such as alternate nostril breathing, which again worked to balance from within, bringing me new mental clarity. Yoga became my best friend, the tool that I could use to help my body and mind to free up any worries. My body started opening and lengthening and I had a new stronger inner feeling that carried me through the days. I went on to become a teacher of Yoga, helping others to not only lose weight and feel better about themselves but also to learn how, through the use of posture work, we can bring balance to our mind, body and spirit.

Yoga allows us to balance our energy centres, stabilize our inner core, reunite with our very soul, and feel that oneness that not many people are aware exists. Moving into that quiet time, that break from the rush of society that everyone feels today, Yoga can become a very valuable tool for all; you just have to give it a go, slow down, and feel the wonders that this ancient art brings with it.

Child’s Pose

This is an important counter pose, taking the body in the opposite direction to the Bridge Pose, as it allows the body to relax in between posture work. It is important to relax the body between the different postures, as this practice also helps to build up stamina and strength.

Child's Pose
Child's Pose

Corpse Pose

This is one of the ‘harder’ postures to do, because it requires the body and mind to be completely rested and ‘still’. It is in this stillness that the mind can relax and unwind, rejuvenating both mind and body. It is very difficult for people to sometimes switch off their mental chatter, but this posture, when learned correctly, is very releasing for the individual. If you can manage about five minutes each day, to reunite your mind, body and spirit, your body will thank you for it, and you will feel the benefits immediately. Because your body can remember how this feels, you can come back and use this tool, day in and day out, to bring you into balance, and to help your overall health and wellbeing.

Corpse Pose
Corpse Pose

Yoga for Balance and Harmony

Yoga has been a tool for many people over many years, to bring them back to the core of their very being. If we can introduce this practice to those who need to find a way of balancing, not only the body but also the mind, then we will have gone some way to helping those people find release. In my case, it helped to put me back on track, and so I wouldn’t want to be without it, ever. It saved me from the ‘medication’ route, making me realize that I did not have to exist on pills; that I could use the tools within Yoga to balance and bring me to where I needed to be… a state of natural harmony.


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About Tammy Lorraine Majchrzak

Tammy Lorraine Majchrzak AIYS (Dip Yoga) is a qualified Yoga Teacher who enjoys spiritual healing, Reiki and martial arts. She lives in West Yorkshire with her husband and her dog Zoony. She loves the outdoors, running, and eating out, and has a passion for alternative therapies. Tammy may be contacted via

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