How yoga has improved my anxiety and depression
Some time ago, I invited my lovely readers and clients to share their experiences of yoga for a series of guest blogs, asking the question
What has yoga done for me?
The response I have received has been wonderful and I really am enjoying reading and sharing all of these wonderful different view points.
There are so many benefits of yoga
Allow me to share the thoughts of Paul, a dear client of mine for some time now. Strong with his practice, the benefits of yoga that he cites relate not to the physical benefits of improved fitness but to something much more profound and personal.
I came to yoga at a low point in my life. I was trying to cope with anxiety and depression and was looking for a gentler way to exercise when my energy levels were low. YouTube videos were my first point of call but, despite hitting on two or three of the better teachers out there, I found even their beginners classes a trial at times. I got hung up on trying to get into the shapes the teacher did and would be forever interrupting my practice to rewind the video so I could figure out how they got there.
Given my frame of mind at that time it always surprises me, looking back, that I didn’t just pack it in but there was something about yoga, in the frustration free times, that was helping. I also had the sense to realise that I could quite easily injure myself if I wasn’t careful.
It was time to find a real life teacher.
I started going to Lee-ann’s Monday evening class and felt at home right away. Here was a warm and friendly person who, along with the group, made me welcome. She showed compassion and understanding, there was no need for me to get hung up about copying anybody else’s shape,
we are all physically different.
I felt in a safe place, in safe hands, I was taught to ease off, let the frustration go and try safe alternatives that my body was comfortable with. I had to think about how my body was feeling in order to practice this letting go and that, along with sensing the comfort and ease once in a shape, was having a positive mental effect.
Now, two years one, I have only missed a handful of classes and have invested in a number of private lessons with Lee-ann. During that time, I have learned that there is so much more to Yoga than creating physical shapes. Most beneficial to me have been the breath practice and meditation, finding out how these can energise us, calm us or help us maintain a focus. I do both practices most days now and I find they help when I am not in a particularly good mental place.
Lee-ann’s little observances of, and paying respect to, the yogic values and traditions is very important. Yoga has been a way of life and a moral code for millions of people for thousands of years and it’s only right for us to acknowledge that. It made me curious to delve a little deeper and Lee-ann has a pointed me to books and resources that have helped me to understand it more and develop my practice at home as well as in class. I have read about anatomy, the yogic philosophy, the Chakras, the Mudras, practiced meditation and chanting. I have experimented with the Yin and Kundalini forms of yoga and have even been on a couple of day retreats.
My home asana practice is still somewhat patchy, I haven’t the dedication or discipline but, when the mood strikes or needs must, the mat comes out. I can now safely and confidently enjoy a YouTube class, make something up, do a few rounds of sun salutations, or chant away to my hearts content (my poor neighbours!) whatever feels good in the moment.
It has, and continues to be, a fascinating journey and I am grateful to Lee-ann for all the time, love and dedication she puts into leading our practice.
Each week, Paul shows up to his mat with a determined focus and it’s been a pleasure to see how his practice has shifted and softened because I really can tell how he is listening to what is right for his body on the day. That he has shared such a valuable insight to his personal exploration of yoga is truly a gift.
I’m so grateful for all of the wonderful guest blog submissions I have received because it really does illustrate that yoga is definitely not a ‘one size, fits all’ type of practice. Every single person who practices yoga gains different benefits dependant on their unique circumstances at the time.
If you happen to be affected by any issues relating to your emotional or mental health, I really hope that you can take comfort from the fact that you are not alone.
It really is ok not to be ok.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post, I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and it may have given you some food for thought. Use the buttons below ⬇️ to get social.
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