The Mental Health Association of Westchester (MHA) welcomed the first day of summer—and the International Day of Yoga—with their annual Get On Your Mat for Mental Health festival. Held in Turnure Park in White Plains, New York, the festival brought the community together to raise awareness for mental health and, of course, to practice yoga.
Hundreds of people came out for the event. Local vendors set up tables throughout the park, and offered an array of free samples and other discounts to festival-goers. Vendors included nearby hospitals and other mental health associations, as well as yoga studios and holistic businesses, including White Plains Hospital, Yoga Haven, Soul Cycle and O2 Living. House of Waters, a Brooklyn-based band, performed, and filled the warm summer evening with fun, Jazzy melodies.
But the highlight of the event was an outdoor yoga class taught by the renowned Beryl Bender Birch. Beryl spoke of yoga’s incredible healing powers on both the body and mind, and how our yoga practice is more than just asana, or the yoga poses. It is also Abhyasa, or a spiritual practice, that we can apply to all areas of our lives.
Thousands of people turn to yoga as a way to heal, and the benefits of yoga on mental health issues and other “invisible” illnesses is changing lives. But the MHA’s Get On Your Mat for Mental Health event isn’t just a fundraiser, it’s a celebration of the Summer Solstice, and how even just one yoga class can change someone’s life for the better.