Monday, August 19, 2013

Guest Post - Yoga for Depression

Yoga for … Depression?

Wherever you are. Whatever you’re doing. Just for a moment, be right here. Put down the cell phone. Turn off the music. Close your door. Open a window.

Breathe with me.

No really, I mean it.

Start tuning into your breath. Just notice. Gradually start to slow down your breath. Begin breathing through your nose. Gently deepen your inhale, and lengthen your exhale. Close your eyes. Stay here for a while.

Place your hand on your belly. Feel your belly expand on the inhale and draw in on the exhale. Nice. And. Slow. In 2-3-4. Out 2-3-4-5. Whatever feels comfortable and natural, do that. Try five more rounds of inhales and exhales.

Pause. Notice. How do you feel?

This is the power of Yoga. And this is just the beginning.

I know yoga. I also know depression. I have faced it. I have lived in the fog. I have stared up from the bottom of that dark, empty, seemingly endless black hole. And I’ve climbed back up, towards that tiny crack that lets the light in.

Depression is not a straight line. Life is not a straight line. The honest truth: if life was a straight line (think ‘flat line’), we’d be dead.

So what can we do? Find peace in our minds and our lives? Accept the ups and downs? Learn to truly live through them, even thrive through them? Sounds about right. Easy? No. Worth it? YES.

One thing I know for sure is that nothing, nothing is permanent … the good stuff, the bad stuff, the in between stuff. We are inherently resilient. We have great capacity to rewire, change, adapt and grow. It’s never too late. The best part? We have so much more power than we think, and we already have everything we need. Yoga simply serves as a powerful tool that can help us access this.

Pain x Resistance = Suffering

Depression (and anxiety) is more than a mood disorder. It’s a universal human experience and more common than we’d like to admit, let alone talk about. Sometimes life is too much, too big, too difficult, too painful to bear. Pain, it’s inevitable. Even those who do not claim to be depressed still find countless ways to tune out, numb out, and shut out. Pick your poison. We all do it, to varying degrees. Suffering, though, this can be optional.

Yoga heals.

This mantra found it’s way into my life following a Traumatic Brain Injury, and helps me to navigate the tumultuous journey through recovery, rehab, and acceptance. It’s an ongoing journey (life is not a straight line!), but one that is hardly recognizable from that day yoga found its way into my life. Yoga awakened an ability to heal … myself. A capacity we all share.

It’s the connection of mind AND body. This is our way through.

Yoga is much more than a series of physical postures and pretty poses. You do not have to be bendy, strong, or in perfect health to do yoga. Quite the opposite! However, for most of us (myself included), this is how we first see yoga.

Equally important as physical yoga (and some would argue more so), are the breathing practices, mindfulness, restorative postures, and meditative elements of yoga.

Time. Practice. Awareness. Possibility.

While I was in the Rehab Hospital following my TBI in 2011, yoga called to me. I got permission to leave the hospital a few mornings a week and attend a yoga class before my various daily therapies. This was a critical turning point. In a place where I felt surrounded by closed doors, a window of possibility opened.

Awareness. This makes all the difference.

The obvious initial benefit was that yoga helped me to manage my pain, my mood, my sleep. The benefits began to compound. I started to see many other powerful changes as a result of my practice.

The easy AND the hard part: No pressure. Just practice.

I made a personal commitment to practice in any way, for any length of time, at least 3x a week. I scheduled it in my calendar. I had my therapists hold me accountable. I dragged myself out of bed or off the couch to practice. I stumbled. I fell off the wagon. I found my way back. Remember: it’s never a straight line. It takes time to build new pathways, new habits.

Want to see for yourself? I hope so. Experiencing this in your own body, your own mind, is truly the only way to really get it. To feel it for yourself.

And. It. Takes. Practice.

No pill or treatment of any kind will result in lasting change if it isn’t taken or            done regularly.

I want to help.

The yoga community is filled with incredible people who want to be of service, to guide you into a practice, to be part of your healing journey. If introducing yoga into your life seems overwhelming, confusing, intimidating. You are not alone. If going to a public yoga class doesn’t feel quite right, quite yet, you are not alone. I’m here to tell you there are so many options!

In my next post, I will provide you with four foundational practices that you can incorporate into your life, immediately.

Get curious. Trust me. You will not regret it.

xo Kate

Kate Durie
Registered Yoga Teacher, Blissologist, Yoga Therapist (in progress)
Kate is a Registered Yoga Teacher, and has trained under renowned yogi and Blissologist, Eoin Finn. Kate is currently in training to become a Yoga Therapist, specializing in yoga for chronic pain, depression, anxiety, and other various conditions. As a Traumatic Brain Injury survivor, Kate understands first hand how Yoga is more than a series of asanas. Yoga heals. With every breath, every movement, every intention, yoga is transformative.

Connect with Kate on...
Twitter & Instagram: @kateudurie
Facebook: /kateunderhilldurie (coming soon)


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