YOGA FOR ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION
Anxiety and depression are issues that most of us may experience at some point in our lives and to some degree, whether it be mild or more serious. Both can be experienced in times of traumatic life changes, from fear arising from situations around us where we are unable to control the outcome and for many other possible reasons and in certain life circumstances or from previous trauma.
We may feel insecure and fear not being able to ensure or control whether we are in a safe and protected environment. We may have experienced the loss of a loved one or a beloved animal and could be experiencing a level of grief that may take time to work through. There are many reasons and life situations that can cause anxiety and depression to arise. Depression may also reach the extreme point of losing hope and the will to live and anxiety may also reach the point of not being able to leave your home.
Note: If you are suffering from anxiety or depression or thoughts of self harm please ensure that you reach out and find professional support to help you through these serious issues or talk to someone who is trusted to you who is able to get professional help.
I write this blog soley as a Yoga teacher and a person who has experienced a few times in life bouts of mild depression and anxiety when certain life challenges and difficult situations have been thrown at me on my life´s path and I have struggled to cope and find my way through daily life.
Im sure I am not alone in expressing this and that many of us have found certain times in our life very difficult when we have found it hard to keep going, where maybe we lose hope or we are too sad or anxious to live our normal every day life in the normal way and we may have needed extra support. We may have found other ways to find our way through these challenges, to help comfort ourselves with the wrong type of foods, the wrong type of company, by smoking or drinking to try and fill a void. These factors will only worsen how we are feeling. If this is the case you may need to seek professional help, to reach out to others or to make a conscious choice to promise yourself to begin to turn things around for yourself and others around you from a negative to positive state of mind with a determination to try and improve our current life situation and emotional and mental balance.
Our mental and emotional challenges in 2020 during the Covid Epidemic
2020 has been a very difficult and challenging year for most of us. We are currently experiencing times that are creating much anxiety, depression, isolation and fear. I very much hope that this situation we are all living through we can work through and that we can all look forward to much happier, healthier and prosperous times. It has in many cases been a time when many of us have struggled with mental health issues.
I have found that by working with gratitude, remembering every single day what we do have, that this way of thinking grounds us, helps to bring us back to the present moment to remember all of the good things that we do have, no matter how small. By practicing gratitude regularly it helps keep us thinking positively and moving forwards positively.
During these times that we are living in it is helpful to learn to check in with ourselves regularly and monitor how we are feeling. We may have situations whereby we may not currently be able to work, we may have different levels of financial stress and worry, working from home on our own, we may have lost our job, or a loved one, we may be experiencing isolation and loneliness or separation from our loved ones. During these times, now more than ever we need to learn tools and survival skills that may help us during these challenging times to stay positive, to stay healthy and strong physically, mentally & emotionally and to remember the importance of self care, every single day.
Nature, our healer
The current Covid pandemic seems never ending and in the depths of winter without the wonderful sunshine to be able to be outside regularly we are spending much more time indoors when the nights are darker and longer. We may be feeling great disconnection from our sense of community, our friends and loved ones.
Remember that nature is a wonderful healer. Our minds and bodies need sunlight and we need connection with nature. Getting outside everyday for a walk, no matter what the weather, immersing ourselves in nature and feeling the fresh air on our cheeks, watching the birds, and the beautiful nature we are lucky enough to have all around us helps so much if we are experiencing mild depression or anxiety. Take time to walk, to breathe the fresh air deep into our lungs, to inwardly smile, to ground ourselves in the present moment, to connect with our precious earth, to be grateful for what we do have… and to just allow yourself to be.
Don’t forget to Reach out!
Reaching out to others is really important, much more so in the current times that we are living. We are unable to hug people, we are unable to connect with those that we normally connect with and spend time with. There is a great human disconnection happening and we need to remember the importance of reaching out to connect with others in any way that we are safely able to, while protecting others and ourselves during this pandemic that has brought with it so much negativity and fear.
When we isolate ourselves we can make things much worse. Try and find people around you that you are able to talk to, to connect with. They may be able to recommend someone professional who you are able to reach out to for further help if they feel your situation is serious.
We can do so much these days online and we are learning how to adapt our connection with others through the internet via Zoom, video calls, online education and exercise classes, There is so much out there now to choose from. .
Try to find people or hobbies that inspire you, that give you positivity and happiness in times that may feel like darkness and where so many are struggling on so many levels. Do things that you enjoy, that brighten up each and every single day and that you can look forward to!
Fuel your body with delicious, nutritious meals!
Remember self Care and find health, strength & happiness through good nutrition
Food plays a crucial role in the way that we feel mentally and emotionally as well as physically. What we choose to eat hugely influences the way that our body functions, our hormonal balance, our digestive health, cardiovascular health, our emotional and mental health, and so so much more. Make the decision to begin caring for your body and your emotional and mental health. Our food choices play a critical role as one of the most important tools of self care. You deserve to be healthy, happy and to achieve wellbeing on every level. Fuel your body with nutritious and healing foods. Remember that you deserve it and try to find inspiring recipe books or recipes that you enjoy creating wonderful meals from and nourishing and delicious foods to eat.
Make a pact to yourself to try and avoid sugar and alcohol or to limit these foods to begin with and focus on working forwards step by step making conscious decisions as to what you buy from the supermarket, taking the time to cook and prepare delicious meals to help rebalance your body and mind and to begin to feel wellbeing and health on every level!
With the correct guidance you can create balance, a healthy body and mind. By choosing to continue this positive and healthy way of eating and living we constantly remind ourselves how important it is what we eat every single day and that the foods that we choose to eat will in turn affect how we feel mentally, physically and mentally. We are in effect what we eat!
Try and make concious choices when choosing foods to eat, finding the strength to leave the comfort foods behind even when we have a bad day and making the choice to begin to take care of yourself, of your body and your mind, remembering to respect yourself and to create strong health for you, from now on for your body and your mind by choosing only the highest quality, fresh and nutritious ingredients to make your meals from. Take time to make nutritious meals and enjoy eating them!
Take time to find recipes that inspire you or delicious meal plans that you enjoy cooking and preparing! There are so many options out there currently, on the internet and in books dedicated to help us to make conscious food choices without cutting out any of the deliciousness or enjoyment of eating!
My favourite is “Deliciously Ella” by Ella Woodward. Ella to me is a great inspiration who has found health and wellness through nutrition from a long road with illness. She has written many books now with delicious recipe ideas and it is wonderful to follow her journey from illness to health and wellness.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” Hippocrates
Yoga for Anxiety & Depression
Regular yoga practice can be extremely helpful in shaking off mild forms of anxiety and depression.
I can speak personally from my own experience as I now teach Yoga because of the passion that I hold for this wonderful practice and therapy which I dearly love sharing with others. Weekly yoga practice helped me through some very dark times when I was experiencing a low point in my life with many losses and I felt I had lost hope. When we reach this kind of low point in our lives we may feel that we have lost the strength to carry on. We may feel that we have lost hope and at this point we must reach out to others and ask for help.
I have always adored Yoga but we can become disconnected in life sometimes due to various factors and its important to acknowledge how we are feeling, the situation that we are trying to deal with and to take steps to find ways to find our way out of our dark spot in the most positive way possible. We are the only people that can make this decision. It must be our choice, to want to help ourselves, to acknowledge that we need to take steps to help ourselves, or ask for help, so that we are able to see the beauty of life once more and our reason for being in it.
Through regular yoga practice and asking for help, I was able to release very slowly the deep feelings of loss and sadness that I had been experiencing. Myself and my husband had experienced many personal losses, I was on a medical protocol which affected me physically and emotionally and I had just lost my father who I loved dearly.
Dealing with Loss
Loss never leaves you, we just find ways of dealing with the natural form of grief and slowly find our way back to happiness. We have to continue hoping, dreaming and moving forwards in our life, to begin to see the light again, the beauty in everything and everyone around us. We have one life and these challenges that we have to deal with are opportunities for us to grow as human beings, to become better, stronger, kinder people . We may not be able to see this at the time but soon we can look back at the difficult and dark times we may have been experiencing and feel different in our perspective, in how we see things, in how we choose to re-prioritise our lives and recognizing that we have learnt the important and necessary tools to keep moving forwards more positively, with more strength and knowledge at how to deal better with life´s challenges. Once we have gained these important life tools this enables us to reach out and help others.
Remembering our purpose
Sometimes we may lose our reason for waking up each morning, our purpose. This in turn can lead to us losing hope. Our purpose in this life is so very important. Learning our life´s purpose and our reason for being here, our own personal path for me has been fundamental.
It may take time to recognise and know in your heart our true potential and what we are able to share with others but it is all part of our lifes journey. We are all beautiful beings, we are all on this earth for a reason, each one of us with so much wonderful potential and ability to help others.
Life is precious
Life is a precious thing, our body is a delicate and powerful machine that stores a jewel inside of our hearts, our inner, eternal soul. By connecting with our heart, by connecting with who we truly are, learning our life´s purpose and remembering the importance of caring for ourselves and those around us, of connecting with others, we can find our way forwards. Our disconnection with the earth, with ourselves and with the beauty of this life and everything that is in it can create much depression and anxiety
Releasing fear & choosing hope
By choosing to live in hope for better days, by choosing to surround ourselves in and acknowledging the beauty of nature and everything that is around us instead of living in fear, we can help to release ourselves from mild anxiety and depression.
Practising Gratitude & positive thinking
By learning that right now we are ok, that we are safe and by practicing positive thinking and gratitude for everything that we do have and everything that we are we can begin to shift our fearful way of thinking towards positivity, towards feeling greatful and towards a happier, healthier life and way of thinking and of looking at ourselves. We can turn thoughts of anger, frustration and upset, destructive thoughts and negativity into the most powerful, wonderful positivity and ability to help others. We just have to choose to want to.
Self care forms an important part in our healing journey. By learning to heal ourselves from our past negative conditioning, from possible painful childhood experiences, and beginning to value and appreciate ourselves for who we truly are, who we can be and taking the decision to make positive choices in our lives, from the food that we put into our body, the thoughts that we allow ourselves to process and our actions that we take, we can turn negativity around into positivity by making a choice and acting on it.
Yoga and self healing
I have always had great respect and fascination for the natural healing capacity of the body through providing the mind and the body with
the correct tools. Through my own journey of ill health to wellness I have done much research over the years and committed myself to much work towards self healing to try and find and maintain a balance of healthy mind, body and spirit.
Yoga has played an enormous part of my self healing journey. It has become my absolute life´s passion, learning, practicing and sharing this wonderful therapy and practice with others to help achieve balance of mind, body and spirit. It is a truly wonderful practice that allows us to grow in our own ways and on our own paths, no matter what our age, level, ability.
How Yoga can help us to rebalance, mentally, emotionally & physically
In Hatha Yoga we work with breathing exercises (Pranayama) which helps to release old negative energy, old oxygen from our body, to breathe in new, fresh oxygen and positivity deep into our lungs and the cells of our body and we begin to learn to focus simply on our breath. By focusing on the breath we can begin to still the mind, to find a place of stillness and of peace.
In Yoga we work with the mind, the body and the spirit. We begin to connect with ourselves, to listen to our body, to quieten our mind and to find balance on many levels.
By working with postures in a yoga class, (Asanas) on a physical level we work to build strength, flexibility and balance. When we work with Asanas we are not just working on a physical level. These postures, coordinated with the correct soft flow of breath also work simultaneously and gently on the energetic pathways and organs and internal systems of our body.
In Yoga through the technique of focusing on breathwork, holding postures and relaxation we aim to down regulate the sympathetic nervous system and activate the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system (responsible for rest, digestion, energy conservation and slowing the heart rate) is the calming mechanism of the nervous system and we work with the objective of reducing the stress response in the body, helping to ease some health conditions possibly caused by the stress response and restore balance.
In a typical yoga class we create a flow of movement, a flow of the breath, of the mind and of the body. When these three points work together we are working on a deeper level, helping the body to release toxins, to release old oxygen and manifested emotions and to work to re-establish balance. Much ill health can be caused by holding onto old, negative emotions. In Yoga we are able to release on many levels, and achieve balance.
Finding our ´safe space´ in a Yoga class
It is not unusual for people to find themselves in tears when practicing Yoga in a class! It is in fact a positive sign that we may be releasing manifested, old, negative emotion to make way for healing and re-balance. When we have experienced or may be experiencing mild anxiety or depression, Yoga can help us greatly on many levels, along with reassessing other areas in our lives to find balance and positivity.
For me Yoga worked this way and I have seen it continue to work in a similar way for many others. I have seen how Yoga can offer clients a safe space for many to transition from difficult periods in their lives, to find a safe place where they are able to release much manifested emotion, to learn for themselves the important tools of self care, and through regular practise to find new-found strength, emotionally and physically. For those looking to build balance, strength & flexibility, to those needing to release mental and physical stress, from beginners gentle yoga Therapy, to intermediate levels and advanced, one to one classes, teen yoga, pregnancy yoga or toddlers yoga, yoga is a practise that can be adapted to absolutely everybody, every level and every age.
Yoga is truly a magical practice that can only be described by experiencing it personally, by finding that connection with ourselves, it teaches us to begin to be kind to ourselves, to be kind and to care for ourselves and for others. It helps us to open our hearts in our safe space, in our own time and once we have found that wonderful place we learn what an incredibly powerful self healing tool Yoga can be!
With love and light