Perhaps many of you have read my most popular blog post, Another Episode, in which I wrote about my exact feelings on a low day in my depression. I articulated all the negativity that my brain produced while in that state, in hopes that how I felt resonated with others also with depression. The blog post has more comments on it than any of my other blogs, and I do think it is for good reason. One, the writing is impeccable (hey, new profession!) and two, it was raw. It was real. It was negative, but it came from a strong place.
Today, a lot has changed since I wrote that blog. I no longer work a miserable job outside my home, my sleep schedule, in turn, has never been better, and I started participating in physical movement again. Oh, and I am also consistently in weekly therapy with my wonderful therapist. That is very important to this story.
The aforementioned physical movement that I am talking about is yoga. I can proudly and confidently say that I have done at least 1 yoga practice for 22 days straight now. On my own accord. No one is forcing me. It’s not gym class and I’m not here for the participation point. I make the conscious decision to work out my body and my mind by practicing yoga. And holy shit, it feels great.
I started doing yoga on a whim. It was a Monday afternoon, I was stressed to the high heavens, and I didn’t know what to do to calm myself down. I had skipped therapy the week before due to tummy troubles, and I really would have benefitted from talking to someone that week. I was working through my calming techniques to no avail.
You know those silly little wrist tattoos that say “Just Breathe.”? I always used to laugh at those. Duh, you’re going to breathe. If you don’t, you’ll die. It’s like getting “Make sure your heart is beating” across your chest. In the history of tattoos, has anyone ever done that?
In the moment of my heart beating out of my chest, I told myself to just breathe. I took long breaths in, and long breaths out. The only other time in my life I ever concentrated on my breathing was in my Mind and Body Phys Ed class in high school. That class taught me yoga, pilates, kickboxing, and meditation. And yoga was always a really fun wind-down in the middle of a stressful school day.
Focusing so heavily on my breathing reminded me that I should try yoga again. It seemed like the perfect idea at the time. I picked up my phone and went to YouTube. I had done a few yoga practices here and there with a girl called Yoga with Adriene, and so I searched her channel. There, I found all types of yoga for stress relief. I clicked on the video, laid out my yoga mat, and the rest is history.
Having a great yoga teacher is key. I am not getting paid or incentivized in any way to say that Adriene from Yoga with Adriene is the best online yoga teacher. A teacher should make you feel strong, proud, and capable. I am always zen, always smiling, always in the moment with Adriene. For the first time in my life, I understand what people mean when they say they meditate. All my life, I’ve been too in my head to allow myself to totally zen out. I never let my mind and thoughts be free because I need to have too much control in my life. Dialing it back with yoga and therapy in my very late twenties is how I got there.
Aside from having a great teacher, yoga inherently teaches you to slow down. Slow your breath. Slow your thoughts. Slow your movements. Yoga allows you to set an intention for the day or for the practice, which I find helps in keeping your personal daily goals, outside of yoga. I am calmer, I breathe more slowly when off the mat, because those practices stick with you after your practice.
There is no cure-all for anxiety and depression. All you can control is what you do with those things. Personally, I got help from my trusted therapist. It helped, but still didn’t feel like it was enough. I left my terrible job, yet depression and anxiety continued to creep in, just in other ways. It made me realize that it’s me. I’m the problem. But I am also the solution.
People with depression have a chemical imbalance in their brains. I find that it is the inability to see what is good, because everything looks bad through negative-tinted shades. If yoga could ever potentially be your thing, give it a shot. If you do, go with Yoga With Adriene. She will make you feel wonderful, and she will make you love yourself on the mat. If you are shaky, or if you do not stretch like a yogi, who cares! You are there for you, dedicating your precious time to bettering yourself. The hardest part is showing up, but every day the practice gets a little easier.
This is not to say that I won’t be back in my Another Episode state of mind one day, because that is unrealistic. But for now, I am going to continue my journey of self-care, by way of my newly formed love for yoga.