“Yama & Niyama” for ‘Sound Mental Health”

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Prof. A.V. Sekhar, Prof. R. Manoj, Mrs. Aditi Ganesh Athreya


Mental Health is the most important requisite for one’s life.  While the popular saying “A Sound mind in Sound body” is, definitely, not meaningless, in reality, the Sound mind is only responsible for a sound body to exist.  But it is easily said than done to maintain ‘good mental health’.  Because, the self, the “I” in us is often made to stray by the mind, which takes total control of us.  The fact is that ‘I’ the self, in the emotional deluge, forgets itself and merges with the mind of the individual, and the individual will then be ‘more the mind’ than the real self.   The “Pseudo-Self” then drives all the thinking and doing.  All the problems start from there.  With the emotion engulfing the mind and the mind pervading the Self, the person is all emotion then.  And emotion, as we all know, most of the time is irrational, non-pragmatic and meaningless.  There are positive emotions, no doubt.  Nevertheless, it is those which are the ‘non-conforming rush of emotions’ which lead astray the individual.  With the thoughts and the actions emerging from such a state, the individual errs at every stage, inviting issues, which will be difficult to be managed, and at one stage the individual breaks down, when all the issues will start affecting the mental health of the individual.  In the wave of unsound mental health, life becomes miserable.   Yoga Shastra, in its pathway to the lofty ideal of Realization of the Self, takes us through certain basic principles called “Yama & Niyama”, categorized as the Restraints (social discipline) and the Virtues (Self-discipline), which work to transform the lives of individuals.  By adopting scrupulously the principles under Yama and Niyama, one can manage the mind on a rational and pragmatic mode, resulting in the Self taking control of the mind by reining in the emotions.   Superficially seen, the principles to be adopted ‘may look too much for deriving too less’ on the objective part of life, and could also been as ‘dry and stale’ to follow, but the mastering of them can bring greater joy of living the life - meaningfully and purposefully.  In fact, if one looks at them critically, there is nothing that the individual loses, as it is only a disciplined way of living and not living for living sake.  The practices under Yama & Niyama also pave the way for the future lives to take a mentally healthy path to attain the ordained life-goal ultimately.  It is in detail discussed in the paper as to how the precepts work to achieve mental health.  The Principles under Yama & Niyama, pronounced by “Yoga Shastra” thus guarantee “Sound mental health”.   Practicing of Yama & Niyama should not be seen as an act of Renunciation, but a glorious act of Regulation for a life to be lived in a fulfilling manner, here and here after.

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