New Year, New You: How to Be the Best Version of Yourself in 2021

2020 has undoubtedly been a chaotic year for all of us. To be the best version of yourself in 2021, You’re Not Alone will initiate its “New Year, New Me” campaign from December 31 to January 4. These resources are to help you reach the best and most productive year yet.

First, allow me to clarify what productivity means. To me, productivity does not mean cramming your schedule with tasks and work. Productivity is more about taking responsibility for yourself so you could become your best, most authentic self. Then, you can start to help and serve others.

Now, I would like to introduce the term “mindset habits.” Mindset habits are crucial because your external world is a reflection of your internal world; you can’t change yourself without changing your mindset first. So, here are a few mindset habits you could incorporate into your own life for the new year.

1. Assess your “default.”

We all have a default, also known as our “comfort zone.” When we face difficulty, we tend to fall back into our defaults, whether it be distracting ourselves with work, retreating to unhealthy habits, or scrolling through social media. It’s comfortable and comforting—hence, “default.”

You’re Not Alone started as a personal blog in December 2019. When other teens reached out to me, wondering if they could contribute and share their own stories, I expanded YNA’s mission to incorporate teens from anywhere in the world. However, I soon realized that managing an organization required a lot more effort than I thought. While I looked at other youth organizations with bigger audiences for inspiration to achieve more, I often grew envious of their progress. Self-deprecating thoughts ran through my head: they’ve only been established for three months; why can’t I make any progress? Why am I stuck? I didn’t know where to draw the line between being assertive and micromanaging, and I was constantly doubting myself and wondered if the organization would accomplish anything at all. That’s when I fell into my own default bubble, where I pushed YNA to the back of my mind for a few months and watched other organizations grow tremendously, wishing it could be mine.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve learned to seek help from the youth leaders I admire. I am pouring in as much effort as possible into my own organization because I realized that the amount of effort you put into something is the quality of the result you get out of it. Growth lies in discomfort, and if you continue to remain in your default bubble, you will remain as you are.

2. Focus on the journey, not the destination.

It was clear that I was focused on the destination as I eyed the youth-led organizations amassing thousands of followers and creating massive impacts on the community. By nitpicking at all the things I should have done and all the ways things could be better, I only sought results. In 2021, I will take a step back to focus on the journey. And to really put that into action, here are three things I am grateful for:

1) YNA as a platform to express my unfiltered thoughts and feelings! It gives me so much joy to know that I’m spreading positive energy.

2) My passion for writing! I love to write and journal; I am so grateful that I can articulate my thoughts and emotions on paper.

3) My friends and family! They are my strongest supporters, and they’re the ones who encourage me to step out of my comfort zone and continue doing the things I love.

Many of us are rushing from one task to another so often that we can forget to be grateful for how much progress we’ve made. There is so much beauty in this world and in your life, so lighten up and enjoy the ride!

3. Take ownership of your life.

Though you can’t control our circumstances and environment, there are plenty of things that are still in your control. It’s up to you to choose between being proactive and reactive when things don’t go your way. It’s up to you to decide whether you will allow your circumstances to define you. It’s up to you to decide whether to see the positives or focus on the negatives.

In 2021, I will choose to be resilient and not fall back into my default mode when I am faced with an obstacle. What will you choose?

Mr. Too Much and Miss Not Enough

Once upon a time, there was a ship shared by two friends. Well, they live together and they tolerate each other most of the time. To protect their privacy, let’s call them Mr. Too Much and Miss Not Enough. The ship’s name is Tini.

Mr. Too Much lives in the galley of the ship; he guards the fridge and the cabinets so that when he can’t sleep at night, he can get up and get a snack right across from his bed. He eats more anyway, and Miss Not Enough doesn’t mind that he’s down there a lot when he’s not steering. It gives her space in the bridge during her shift.

Miss Not Enough, on the other hand, lives right in the bridge, where she’d watch Mr. Too Much steer sometimes even when she’s off duty. The height gives her a perfect view of everything in front of Tini, so she can keep them all safe in case Mr. Too Much messes up, which can be often. She spends a lot of time on the deck, too, especially at the front in the forecastle. On a good day, there’s a lot of breeze, and the rain doesn’t bother her when the weather doesn’t cooperate. It’s only when the sea retaliates, or when they need to dock Tini, which is a two-person endeavor, that she returns to the bridge to help Mr. Too Much, or as she likes to say, “keep him in check.”

It’s not that she doesn’t want to help, or doesn’t like Mr. Too Much. He doesn’t always want her help; he’d feel insulted if she offers too often, or pitied when she says it a certain way. Like siblings and any two old roommate, they don’t always get along. Sometimes, he’d lock her out, force her to roam the underbelly of the ship so her presence wouldn’t offend. In exile, alone, out of his line of sight.

But when Miss Not Enough stopped coming above the deck to check on him, Mr. Too Much started to worry, as he does. Even when he needed assistance carrying out the basic functions of the ship, she wasn’t there. He couldn’t sense her; it was as if she disappeared off the face of Tini, gone without a trace. Left to his own devices, everything spiraled into a mess. He barely ate, but when he did, he stuffed his face with any edible thing he could find in the galley. Not that he felt hungry. Most of the time, his stomach rumbled in protest, bloated and in pain. But he didn’t care. He wanted to fill a void inside him he couldn’t explain.

It turns out, as much as he hated her high-heeled strut and patronizing tone, Mr. Too Much needed Miss Not Enough. He missed her check-ins during his shifts, the cheese and crackers she’d bring on a little tray from her private stash in the galley, the crackers already a little stale but at least they weren’t soggy like he expected. He missed her stern look watching over his shoulder, her knotted brown eyebrows thinning in the middle where she’d pull at them when she’s thinking. Her rare smile when he mistook a dolphin as another ship, shouting “incoming” as she chuckled, almost mocking him but not. Tini isn’t the same without her. It won’t ever be.

Where did she go?

He worked and waited and wept and waited and worried and waited and wandered the bridge watching the deck wondering when she’d walk right back to him. She did not come. He waited some more. Still no Miss Not Enough. He began to think it was all his fault, that he complained too often or whined too much or pushed her away when she just wanted to help. He desperately wanted to go find her, but he couldn’t leave the ship unattended in the open water where Lovecraftian monsters could attack at any moment.

So he started praying. Mr. Too Much has been as atheist as atheists can get but he started praying. To God, to the sea, to Tini… To anyone, anything. Sometimes, he didn’t even have the words for it; he just closed his eyes and imagined her—her hair smelling like the sea wrestling the wind, her eyes in the sunlight clear as mirrors, her sharp words cutting through the air like a knife, her pride, her.

She did not come.

He almost stopped waiting. But he didn’t.

Maybe his prayers finally worked, maybe she heard his apologies, or maybe, simply maybe, she finally got bored of all this hiding and wanted some human interaction. Who knows? In any case, 33 days after her exile, Miss Not Enough marched into the bridge and, for the first time in forever, gave him a hug.

For a moment, he thought he was in heaven.

“Great, you didn’t sink us while I was gone” was all she said. But it was enough. “Oh come on, don’t cry you doofus! I wasn’t gone for that long.”

Too late. Mr. Too Much was clinging onto her like a koala and she had to tap out to breathe and calm him down till he could form a sentence.

“So we’re cool?”


“We’re still crewmates?”



“Partners. From now on, we run Tini together. Always. Deal?”

And Mr. Too Much yelled “deal” so loudly he could have drawn out the sirens.

So that’s how they’ve come to work together. They still fight sometimes, as partners do, and choppy waters still rock the boat. But at least they’re trying to keep Tini in the best condition they can, and that’s all that matters.

The Symptoms and Treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder: SAD Part 2

Finals are coming up. People are getting sick. It’s freezing cold outside and you have no motivation to get out of bed. It gets dark at 5 pm, for god’s sake! The only thing keeping you going is the holiday season- oh wait, never mind, all your winter plans might be canceled because of COVID-19.

Seasonal depression, aka the “winter blues,” is very real and can affect all of us in different ways. You may encounter fatigue and social withdrawal throughout these months, especially now that we are all cooped up in our houses.

Here are a few things you can do to lift your mood and make your days more enjoyable.

1. Participate in fun, festive activities. No, you don’t have to leave your house to be festive! Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, you sure can have a good time if you try. Decorate your room with colorful lights. Blast holiday music. Drink hot chocolate in your pajamas. Buy a new fuzzy sweater. Start a bonfire. Make goodie bags for the next time you see your friends. Watch Christmas movies. The possibilities are endless 🙂

2. Try not to take naps. Yes, I said it. I know naps seem like the best thing ever right now, but they can leave you feeling even more groggy and unproductive than you did before. Have you ever taken an afternoon nap and woken up when it’s dark outside and then realized you have 8 hours of homework left? Me too. I highly recommend doing homework when there’s still daylight because after it gets dark, your brain will automatically be like, “it’s time to relax!” and a task that should’ve taken 30 minutes ends up taking 3 hours. Trust me, you will thank yourself later.

3. Get some sunlight. I understand that not everyone lives in areas where it’s sunny right now, but if you do, take advantage of it! I know a lot of us in California still are able to go outside without freezing to death. Even if you live in a cold area, it’s probably a good idea to at least get some fresh air once in a while. It really does help get rid of that headache and eye strain.

4. Appreciate online school. You’re probably like, um, what is she even saying at this point? Online school sucks! I totally get that, but there are some things that I have been trying to appreciate lately. You can literally lounge around in pajamas all day and cuddle up in a bunch of blankets whenever you feel like it. You don’t have to put on 5 layers of clothing at 6 am when you’re half asleep just to come home cold and wet from the rain at the end of the school day. As odd as it sounds, you may miss being online juuust a little bit when you actually have to go back to school again.

5. Change up your food routine. Sometimes it may feel as if you are eating the same thing every. Single. Day. Eating healthier will make your body feel better, but at the same time don’t feel pressured to eat healthy ALL the time. Try to create a balanced, weekly meal plan for yourself where you map out what you will eat each day and stick to it. This way, you won’t be up at 2 am trying to figure out if Doritos and pumpkin pie will be sufficient for dinner because you have no other options. I recommend using apps like Tasty for new recipes! Cooking and baking can also turn into a fun hobby.

So, there you have it. If you are going through phases with your moods, you are not alone! Just remember that it is normal for a lot of us to feel this way and I hope you are able to incorporate some of these tips into your daily routine.

The Symptoms and Treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder: SAD Part 1

Updated: Jan 1

Cold, dark, gloomy… If you’re like me, these are words you would use to describe winter. But no matter how much you hate the season, it probably doesn’t affect your mood significantly—that is, unless you have Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a disorder that affects one’s moods according to the season. Symptoms of SAD usually kick in during autumn and last throughout winter (which is known as winter-pattern SAD). However, some people experience symptoms during spring and summer (AKA summer-pattern SAD).

What are these symptoms? According to NIMH, symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Loss of interest in activities that one usually enjoys
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Changes in sleep patterns (having trouble sleeping, oversleeping, etc.)
  • Feeling sluggish or unenergetic
  • Suicidal thoughts

Did you know that SAD can be influenced by your geographic location? Studies show that the closer one is to the equator, the less likely they are to get this disorder. This is most likely because seasons are less extreme and do not differ much near the equator. In contrast, places like New York have extremely hot summers and freezing, snowy winters. Also, places closer to the poles have shorter days during winter and longer days during summer.

According to NIMH, there are four main treatments for SAD:

  1. Light therapy- The patient sits in a room with a bright light for just under an hour every day (usually in the morning). This is done to make up for the sun that they are missing in the winter.
  2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy- Patients attend group sessions where they “[focus] on replacing negative thoughts related to the winter season (e.g., about the darkness of winter) with more positive thoughts” (National Institute of Mental Health).
  3. SAD is often accompanied by a Vitamin D deficiency; however, scientists are unsure if the latter can be a reason for the former. Regardless, SAD patients may take Vitamin D supplements to try to reduce their symptoms.
  4. One of the main symptoms of SAD is depression, so patients may take antidepressants to prevent future depressive episodes or mitigate their depression/bad moods.

Since it is now December (SAD Awareness Month), here is a link to a website that provides a myriad of great resources for people with SAD (or any depression-related mental illness). If you want more information on SAD or you want to spread awareness about the disorder, visit the links below.

And remember, no matter how much it feels like it sometimes, you are never alone.


Stop Zooming: Preventing Online Burnout

Updated: Jan 1

My after school routine usually looks something like this: 1) Inhale my lunch. 2) Take a nap until I’m ready to 3) get to work. 4) Feel unmotivated; time to take another break. 5) It’s past dinner and I still haven’t done any work, it’s about time I get started. 6) Stay up until 1 a.m., scramble to finish up my assignments. Oops, it turns out I didn’t finish my work, but I’ll 7) go to bed, hoping I’ll find the energy at 6:30 a.m. to finish my work without wallowing in my unproductivity.

In the virtual school setting that requires six hours of constant screen engagement, an added load of homework, and other extracurricular activities (many of which have transferred online), technology places a great strain on our mental health. To understand the causes of online burnout, however, we must first understand the toxicity of hustle culture:the striving for perfection. If there is anything the “rise and grind” culture has taught us, it’s that we are never efficient and need to squeeze in as much working time as possible. Hustle culture is defined as “devoting as much of your day as possible to working — hustling. There is no time out or time in at work. Work is done in the office, outside the office, at home, at coffee shops — anywhere.” However, this term does not strictly apply to the workforce. Hustle culture in our generation, especially in high schools, has been on the rise as college applications loom over our heads like a storm cloud.

When we are surrounded by people who are continually working hard, or “grinding,” we feel like we have to reach a certain level of productivity. If someone takes five advanced placement classes in a year as opposed to someone who doesn’t take any, the student with a more challenging course load works harder. People look up to those who are hardworking. But what does “hardworking” even mean? Hustle culture manifests in different ways, depending on the individual’s circumstances. A student working a job outside of school to provide for their family while balancing their classwork is just as hardworking as someone who studies every day to maintain straight A’s. As we transition our lives over to the online world, it has become ever-so-important to address the issue of high school burnout. How can we get as much work done as possible without zooming through our days? After much reflection and seeking advice from others, here are a few tips to prevent online burnout.

1. Stop rushing; change your mindset.

Hustle culture is all about striving to squeeze in productivity at every given moment, then feeling like a failure when you can’t seem to get anything done. Avoid multitasking, give yourself a break, and take the time to refocus yourself. Rushing to accomplish as much as you can in a day is only a recipe for burnout.

It all starts with a change in mindset. Is food better when you shove it down your throat or when you savor every bite? This can be applied to all aspects of your life: is the day better if you absentmindedly get through it or when you immerse yourself in everything that you do? “We are always getting ready to live but never living,” Ralph Waldo Emerson once said. Find a balance between being productive yet still prioritizing your mental health.

2. Be realistic about your goals.

It’s good to have set goals in mind, but if you’re an overachiever like I am, you may have very high expectations of yourself. Instead of listing everything you could get done only by spending every second productively, be kind to yourself. There are days where you might find yourself exhausted after a long day at school. There are days that you feel so overwhelmed you can’t get anything done. Rather than setting unrealistic goals and feeling like a failure when you can’t check off all of the things on your To-Do list, acknowledge your flaws as a human being. We can’t stay on top of our game at all times, so forgive yourself!

3. Get some form of exercise daily.

Even if it’s just a ten-minute walk outside, it will help boost your serotonin levels. As an all-virtual student jumping from online class to class, I find it difficult to stay focused without moving around for a few minutes during my breaks. To help prevent online burnout, step away from your screen and let fresh oxygen circulate through your brain. When you spend time with nature, endorphins are released and your mood will also improve. 

4. Talk to someone you trust.

There are lots of students who don’t want to share their struggles with others due to the fear of burdening them. Talking out your feelings to someone you trust will help you process your emotions. Thanks to technology, there are also many digital platforms and community groups that you can use to vent. is a great resource for when you need a listener. You can anonymously share your feelings in a one-on-one conversation with a trained teen or adult who is willing to listen to you. You’re Not Alone also has a Discord server for teens across the world to gather and rant, share personal stories, and give advice—we encourage you to join! There are plenty of other online resources, so use technology to your advantage! Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; mental health is just as important as physical health.

Let’s release our obsession with rushing through our days. We should appreciate how much time virtual schooling has given us—time to reflect and pick up new hobbies. We should be mindful of how we are spending our day-to-day lives. At the end of the day, zooming through your day is simply not worth it. 

The Symptoms and Treatment for ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

“Living with ADHD is like being locked in a room with 100 Televisions and 100 Radios all playing. None of them have power buttons so you can turn them off, and the door is locked from the outside.”

Sarah Young


Contrary to popular belief, ADHD is a real mental disorder, and it is especially common in kids and teenagers. According to The A.D.D Resource Center, “the average age of ADHD diagnosis is 7 years old.” That’s seriously young!

So today, in honor of ADHD Awareness Month, I’m going to talk about the symptoms of ADHD and the methods used to treat it.

First, what is ADHD? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ADHD is a “neurodevelopmental disorder.” This means that it is a disorder that affects the way the nervous system works. The brain, spinal cord, sense organs, and the nerves connecting them are all part of the nervous system. The nervous system impacts how a person makes decisions and assesses information, so a neurodevelopmental disorder can change a person’s ability to do so.

Symptoms of ADHD include:

  • Having difficulty focusing
  • Being talkative
  • Daydreaming
  • Fidgeting
  • Forgetfulness

For more symptoms of ADHD, visit the CDC page of information on ADHD.

How is ADHD Treated?

1. Behavior Therapy: This type of therapy is not conventional; according to Understood, “it focuses on a person’s actions, not on thoughts and emotions.” This therapy is given not only to children/teenagers with ADHD, but also to their parents. This is because sometimes parents can get into behavior that only exacerbates the situation.

Parents use incentives to encourage positive behavior in the child.

Behavior therapy uses a system of incentives and praise to encourage the child to display positive behavior. However, the child’s negative behavior isn’t punished; as stated in the article from Understood, “The point is to reward positive behavior and ignore negative behavior.”

2. Medications: There are two types of ADHD medications: stimulants and non-stimulants. Stimulants are more commonly used, and they take effect quicker, while non-stimulants take a long time to kick in. Both medications are used to reduce the symptoms of the disorder.


The official term for the disorder is Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). However, there are many different types of ADHD, and each type has different symptoms. The type that is commonly referred to as Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD) does not involve fidgeting or hyperactivity. Instead, it largely consists of daydreaming and having “trouble paying attention,” as stated in the article from Web MD.

In other words, ADHD is an umbrella term for all types of the disorder, while ADD is one of the types. However, they are still used interchangeably sometimes.

I hope you were able to learn something new from this article, and that you will spread the word about ADHD Awareness Month. But most importantly, I hope you realize that people with ADHD are just like people without ADHD, so there is no reason to discriminate against them. You can only call yourself “aware” once you understand that people who have mental disorders are just as capable of achieving success as anyone else, so you should treat them as you would anyone else.

Lastly, if you want more information on ADHD, visit the websites listed below.


Deck (By: @ratskolnikov_)

I am an ace of hearts…

But do I belong in the deck?

The kings and queens are ripping apart

my sense of belonging behind my back.

In the world full of pretty ladies and jacks

they always say “I want to be you!”

When the night lures them into the bed,

the wish is forgotten: one blanket for two.

The irony’s painful. I’m the one thinking straight.

If this game is my life, then i’ll keep poker face.

Yet, I’ll never give up my mysterious fate.

At the end, I will win, for i am an Ace.

It’s a beautiful role

that only strongest can play.

So, if you’re one of the four,

I will need you to stay.

this post is in honor of asexual awareness month. to all a-specs reading this: you are not broken, you are not invalidated as a person. you are loved and valued–don’t let anyone take that away from you. it’s okay to not feel completely comfortable or positive about your sexuality 24/7. you deserve to be treated with respect and referred to by your proper pronouns. you are whole and complete, not a watered-down version of a singular label. the way you love is your own, and that’s amazing.

Finding your Inner Self Through Detachment

It is human nature to thrive off of human connection, it is one of the only ways to maintain an enjoyable life. Yet, you may have noticed that a person who made you so happy at a given point in your life no longer speaks to you. The people you thought could not live without in the past are now gone, and even you are not the same person you were before.

We have to come to the realization that everything in this world is temporary and nobody will be there for you forever. Now, hearing this might make us feel alone and isolated. This doesn’t have to be the case, however.

Change is inevitable. The hard part is accepting that change and moving forward with life. The first step to this is to not get completely attached to someone in the first place. For example, people tend to get overly attached to their significant other or their best friends. We heavily rely on these figures, and our moods change based on them and their actions. Sometimes, taking a step back from people is beneficial. Now, I am not saying to cut yourself off from everyone you care about. Rather, think about who you are outside of the company of the other person. It is really easy to have someone in your life who influences all your thoughts and decisions. You may lose yourself if you are always so concerned about what others are doing. The people around you should be there to inspire you, not guide your every move.

Here are some ways you can stray away from attachment:

1. Don’t be afraid to do things yourself. For a lot of us, it can be very hard to step out of our comfort zones unless our friends are also doing it. However, the most inner growth will come when you leave your little bubble and explore on your own. Who knows what you may learn! Go to the park, go to that new cafe you always wanted to go, go join a club on your own!

2. Don’t check your phone for unnecessary periods of time. In this day and age, we all get so caught up in social media, the who-said-what’s, and a lot of pointless drama. Take a break so you don’t keep checking up on people and getting upset when you see them hanging out without you. You could be having a great day at home, but seeing someone’s Snapchat story that looks they’re having so much fun can just ruin it for you. Turn your phone on silent instead!

3. Don’t constantly look to see what others are doing. You are NOT the other person. You have a much different journey than theirs, so why would you want to copy them? In the past, I even used to catch myself agreeing with random things that people said that I didn’t actually agree with. Now that I look back, I realize how pointless that was. I was scared of confrontation, scared of being judged. Once you start doing your own thing and speaking your mind without being influenced by others, it feels so freeing.

These small tips can save you a lot of heartbreak later. When we detach ourselves from these things, we start to develop our own identities. Many people in your life are seasonal in a sense, they will come and go as they please. So if you avoid getting attached in the first place, it will be much easier to let go.

Quarantine is a great place to start doing these things. You don’t have to talk to anyone unless you make the effort to! As constricted as you may feel to be stuck in your house, use this time to work on yourself and come out as a strong, independent human being 🙂 Good luck!

If I Die Young

*This poem is dedicated to Suicide Prevention Month (which is September). If you’re struggling, please don’t be afraid to seek help. Remember that you’re not alone and we love you!*

If I Die Young

You would have found me like this:

gently laid on my side under my purple floral covers

in my best pajamas—pink and soft like the swaddle

I had as a baby or the one velvet headband

still kept in a white box in one of the dozen

white drawers I used to bruise my knee on

The room would smell of lavender

sweet, floral, woody, herbal all at the same time

like you tried to mix all the best qualities

in a purple petal for me, easy for you as frying noodles

till they sizzle, golden and crisp like a bite of the sun

And still I’d be smiling with

the left corner of my mouth half upturned

a crooked new moon winking;

my left arm crossed over my right the way yours do

my back arched, my legs about to leap into motion

though no more

At least not cut down from the ceiling fan like her

breaking you



Or falling limp in my arms clutching a prescription

I fought to tear out of your wrinkled hands

your clear eyes greying like your silver mane

teaching me one last lesson

before blazing white hospital lights blind me

sirens piercing my ears before I realize it’s my own

wailing, tears flooding my eyes before I could

open them, pink now and throbbing

my chest burning with yearning for air and fear

of losing you again

So if I die young…

No, I won’t

I hope that you can take this opportunity to check on your friends and family, especially those who may be struggling, and let them know that you’re here for them. A little can go a long way. Let’s all help raise awareness and prevent suicides this September!

Yoga and Its Effects on Mental Health

Recently, I watched a video on the effects of an ancient Indian practice: yoga. The video talked about the physical health benefits of yoga, such as improved flexibility and muscle strength. Yoga is widely known for its positive effects on physical health, but did you know that it also has an incredible impact on mental well-being?

The History of Yoga

The word “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit word root for “unite” or “union”, and it was first written in the Vedas. The Vedas are ancient Indian scripts that cover topics anywhere from religion to science to math, and they are over 1,000 years old. According to the Vedas, yoga unites the mind and the body, hence the name.

Yoga is around 5,000 years old, and it originated in the Indus-Saraswati region (Northwest India). Many seals of people performing yoga were discovered in that area, proving the existence of yoga in ancient times.

You might have heard of the sage Patanjali, who wrote the Yoga Sutras, a religious text, in 2 C.E. In this text, the sage explained one type of yoga, which I will talk about in more detail later in this article. Sage Patanjali is known for his work in the field of yoga and is often referred to as the father of yoga.

The Types of Yoga

You might think that yoga is just doing different poses, but it isn’t. Yoga is often described as “self-discipline” because yoga is not only physical exercise; there are four types of yogas, each focusing on a different aspect of life.

The four main types of yoga are as follows:

1. Bhakti yoga-

Bhakti yoga is the yoga of worshipping and establishing a “personal relationship with God” (Yoga Journal). While yoga originated as a Hindu practice, nowadays people who perform Bhakti yoga focus on getting closer to their God. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be a “God”; it could even be their “Self” that they are trying to connect with.

One of the reasons why yoga is so ubiquitous is that many yogic practices align with other religions’ beliefs. For example, according to Yoga International, one of the stages of Bhakti yoga is accepting every part of yourself, rather than avoiding your negative emotions. To emphasize their point, Yoga International quotes Jesus in the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas: “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”

2. Karma yoga-

Karma yoga also relates to unity; it is becoming one with your community and the world through selfless service. This service doesn’t have to be something big; it could be watering your neighbor’s plants, helping a friend study for a test, or simply doing chores for your parents.

3. Jnana yoga-

“Jnana” is Sanskrit for “knowledge”. Jnana yoga concentrates on understanding that the body and the soul are separate and being able to differentiate permanent from temporary. This comes from the Hindu belief that the body is temporary while the soul is the one that is reincarnated.

4. Raja yoga-

In his Yoga Sutras, the sage Patanjali explained Raja yoga using steps known as the eight limbs. The first four of these steps involve exercises like postures and controlled breathing.

The third step is called “asana”, meaning posture. There are primarily two types: sitting postures (meditation) and physical postures—the ones that most people associate with yoga.

Yoga’s Effects on Mental Health

Studies have shown that yoga reduces stress, relaxes the mind, and improves your mood, among many other things. It is also good for anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses.

Yoga increases the level of Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in your body. GABA is an acid that keeps nerve activity in check. Some people have low levels of GABA, so their nerve activity is higher, resulting in more stress and anxiety. Therefore, yoga keeps your mind relaxed and stress-free.

An important part of yoga is meditation, which is a huge stress-reliever. Meditation requires a person to relieve themselves of stressful thoughts or events and focus on something that is their idea of relaxing. This improves one’s ability to concentrate and cope with stress.

If you are someone who finds meditation hard, no need to worry! As stated by psychologist Belisa Vranich, “[Breathing is] meditation for people who can’t meditate” (The New York Times). Studies have affirmed that the controlled breathing involved in yoga reduces symptoms of many mental illnesses/disorders, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Now you know what to do if you are stressed, anxious, have trouble concentrating, or have pretty much any other mental health issue. Wow, yoga sure has a ton of benefits! I’ll be sure to try it out myself.

I hope you enjoyed this article, and remember: You are never alone.