Depression. Feelings of despair, great sadness, worthlessness, a label that has become ubiquitous. Is this a product of the consumer-driven society fueled by images of perfection? Why does anyone need to suffer trying to live up to this imagined ideal?
I have suffered from depression. I have hated myself so completely that I have not been able to get out of bed. I have consumed copious amounts of alcohol to try and numb the feeling. I have taken anti-depressants to help my broken mind return to a state of balanced equilibrium. I have been counseled by therapists and I have done lots of yoga. In my darkest moments yoga has been my constant, it has supported me. What I’ve come to understand is that in every moment, I have a choice. The good food I eat, the people with whom I surround myself, the movement or meditation I practice – all of this fuels my state. I’ve learned to choose now, and I’m taking action.
Very recently I witnessed the ultimate destruction; I lost a friend to suicide. She was beautiful, a kind generous heart, full of life with a great professional career as a vet yet suffering secretly so deeply inside, afraid to admit her darkness. Looking back at her social media posts, she demonstrated the perfect life, hiding from her depression so completely that her suicide was an enormous shock. She was connected to a great many people via her social media accounts, yet her experience of disconnection was so great that she actually felt terribly alone.
In our darkest times we are yearning for connection – connection to self, connection to others. Many have found connection in the form of yoga. Yoga has given us a new perspective, new hope, new connection to Source. Yoga helps us to face ourselves and recognize our own glorious light.
Making that small step to recovery by simply taking a yoga class can make a difference to someone suffering with depression. Practicing specific yoga poses and breathing techniques with a teacher that you trust, someone who understands this delicate imbalance in the mind, can be a step on your path to self-recognition and ultimately to hope, self-worth and self-love. Walking this path with a compassionate guide strengthens your sense of self and trust in yourself. In conjunction with other therapies, yoga can aid depression.
In memory of my friend, I’ve made a promise to myself to use my own experience of depression to make a difference to people’s lives. Black Dog Workshops have been born out of her tragedy with the hope that through them more people can learn about the benefits of yoga for depression. The workshops are specifically designed for people living with depression. For more information on how Black Dog Workshops can help you or a friend, please connect with me.
Published initially on teach.yoga here