Yoga really helped my anxiety panic attacks
Mental Health Awareness week is such an important one. But even the term ‘mental health’ can conjure thoughts of stigma. I became aware recently of a man who was told by his mother not to approach his GP with his severe anxiety because having such an issue on his medical records would likely affect credit searches and job applications. (I’m not calling out the Mother for saying such a thing, she was acting from a place of love - societal and historical opinion is to blame!)
It is a sad and sorry state to know that so many people struggle to live their lives without feelings of anxiety, despair, depression and stress. Fortunately, due to extensive psychological research and study, we now know more about the physically damaging effects of mental health struggles and it is becoming more acceptable to raise these issues as genuine health concerns.
Following my question of a few months ago
WHAT HAS YOGA DONE FOR ME?
Here is the account of a very lovely yogini who I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with for a few years now. Although not submitted as a guest blog, I recently specifically asked her if I could use the words that she emailed my during the summer of 2017. They had such a profound effect for me - I know how much her yoga practice means to her and to receive such an email moved me greatly.
This past year I have been practising yoga with Lee-ann and not only seen huge benefits in posture, core strength and stamina, but in mental health. Depression has dogged me for a number of years, and even with medication management, the unexpected and sometimes
debilitating panic attacks and anxiety still linger.
When faced with these feelings, I've drawn on Lee-ann's teaching and ethos, and practiced breathing exercises, and found moves such as cat-cow (Marjaryasana /Bitilasana) and child's pose (Balasana) really helped to re-focus and bring calmness, where nothing else has helped.
How much yoga has impacted me positively was apparent, when after the summer break, I faced a difficult situation, which was unexpected. It felt overwhelming, and coupled with a period of grieving and being at a real low, my panic attacks resumed. Coupled with other insecurities, my self esteem took a nosedive.
I was unable to attend the first class of the new term, but Lee-ann's video tutorial gave me the option to practice at home, and at this point, I'd had at least one panic attack daily for four days in a row. After I finished the video, I felt more energised, balanced, and open to change. It gave me enough of a boost to face a difficult conversation, during which I felt calm and in control. In the four days that have followed, I've had no further panic attacks. Instead of feeling I may break under pressure, instead I now feel as if I can bend with it, flexibly, and return the pass in a controlled way – both physically and emotionally.
I've recognised the signs that my body needs yoga practice over this past year as well. When I feel like I'm being overwhelmed, I know that yoga class will bring focus and strength. On the mat, in my own space, I can allow myself to just 'be.' Lee-ann's narrative and ethos is calming, empowering and well paced, and always leaves me feeling eager for further practice; and when you are depressed, low, empty and confused, that's a wonderful feeling to have!
Claire raises such a prominent point here that it is vital that these issues are brought to the “forefront of social dialogue”. She is admirable and inspirational with the way in which she has an open and honest approach to challenges she faces - she also refuses to let these things define her.
I am really grateful for these honest words 🙏🏼
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.
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