In the wake of so many losses — some chosen, some not– (my grandfather, my therapist, (impending) my job, (impending) my apartment, my plans for the future), I’ve been clinging to the only glimmer of hope I really feel like is consistently left in my life: yoga.
I guess we can call this blog an ode to yoga.
I started practicing almost exactly a year and one month ago. I was always afraid to go to a class because I thought people would judge me, this chubby girl who has no idea what she is doing; I’m proud to say that wasn’t the case.
My friend and co-worker invited me to go to a “yoga under the trees” class and it was the best thing I ever could have done for myself. We were late (my fault) so we rolled out our mats in the back of the group which allowed me the much needed illusion of privacy.
I could stumble and fail at poses as much as I needed and my co-worker could quietly help with guiding me into the proper alignment. The experience was invigorating and not at all what I expected. So, she and I started to go to every free event we could find. And, then we started to go to paid events as well. I couldn’t get enough.
After a yoga retreat in the Summer, I spent literally every single day practicing yoga.
The friend and I found this quaint little studio about 20 minutes from my apartment, so I let myself get comfortable there.
I made a little yoga home for myself. Because, most of the time, I was going to classes alone. The friend who introduced me to yoga, for some reason, stopped being interested in doing things with me. And, me being who I am, I let her disappear from my life. I have never been one to do much chasing. I did chase yoga though.
When I returned back to work in August, having lost 25 pounds, and having spent an entire summer practicing yoga and mindfulness, people remarked upon how different I was. Not just that I had lost weight but that the way I carried myself was different, too. And, I think, this is largely because of the impact yoga had in my life.
I didn’t feel as depressed when I did yoga every day. I didn’t feel the despair closing in on me. I learned what it felt like to have peace. I always felt floaty after classes and I carried that carefree floatiness into my everyday life.
Unfortunately, work drains the life out of me so I stopped doing yoga daily. By the time I got home from work I didn’t want to do anything. I just wanted to sit on the couch and be a lump. I fell into a depression deep enough to send me for meds at the psychiatrist’s office, which is saying something because I hate meds.
They are great for some people, and I absolutely respect a person’s decision and need, but they really haven’t been great for me. I feel like every single side effect possible, I get that. I have changed meds at least 5 times in the last 4 months. There is no longevity there.
I thought it was a better idea for me to start doing yoga again.
So, lately, I’ve made a concerted effort to do yoga every. single. day. And, I’ve started challenging myself to do poses that I just never could do before. I haven’t made it very far with that. I can do a headstand… though that doesn’t always go as planned.
I can do warrior 3 but it’s a bit wobbly.
And, I can do crow pose (I will produce photographic evidence of that shortly). Also, about a million variations of bow pose and others.
Beyond that, I haven’t really mastered anything else but the basics. I’m working on a handstand but that will take a while. I really just say this to drive home the fact that perseverance in yoga has really taught me a lot about perseverance in my life with mental illness. Knowing that I can persevere through challenging poses proves to me that I can persevere through depression and anxiety and PTSD.
When it comes to meds; I’m a quitter. But, when it comes to therapy, even though after the C thing I felt like a quitter, I know that I have what it takes to stick it out and see results. I have been doing all the things I need to do. I have been practicing the techniques on the worksheets. I have been eating right. I have been working on my sleep. I have been journaling. I have been making sure to eat properly. I make sure that I don’t isolate when I feel desperation. I text or call someone when I feel like I’m approaching the ledge. All of these things, I know, factor into my mental health. And, yeah, even with all of that and my yoga practice, I still struggle
Which can feel hopeless. But, as I keep going in yoga, keep striving for those challenging poses, something drives me to keep going with my mental health as well. I don’t know what that drive is really but I’m thankful for it… because, realistically… without that drive, I know I wouldn’t be where I am… or if I’d even be.