I whole-heartedly believe that every moment in my life has brought me to here. To teaching yoga, but not just yoga – yoga for mental wellness. Research has proven it makes a remarkable difference and I am determined to share this practice to help those who suffer.
Both yoga and mental illness have touched my life in profound and personal ways. If you read my inaugural post, you know that stress and management of life's proverbial rollercoaster kept me coming back to yoga... but life was pretty easy back then. For the most part, I was troubled with school, and when that subsided typical job stress replaced it. Flash forward a handful of years when I came face to face with mental illness. Job stress was peanuts, by comparison.
A special person in my life was diagnosed with a serious mental health disorder. For many years I watched this person move through life in a way that was unique and purposeful, but I could sense that there was pain. I didn't know where the pain came from, but I wanted to help. I just didn't know how.
One component strongly recommended by his doctors was exercise. If you have ever suffered from a depressive illness you know that finding the will to get out of bed for anything – let alone exercise – feels like it might be the end of you. But he tried anyway. He lifted weights, took spin classes, walked his dog... nothing gave him that burst of endorphins he was supposed to feel with exercise.
And then he went to a yoga class. He spent the first 15 minutes looking at the clock, wishing he could walk out, but stayed out of politeness. Halfway through the class he started to feel more comfortable, better than when he walked in. He told me that by the end of class he felt "happy", a word I hadn't heard him use to describe himself in years. He said, "maybe a regular yoga practice will help me feel better".
It has been an arduous road to recovery, but he has been successful. Inspired by that initial feeling of wellness, he continues to build a consistent practice. He is listening to the needs of his own body and feeling better with each passing day. One simple explanation for why he felt better after yoga practice is because emotions can be manipulated by changing postures.
And so I am here, with a sliver of his wellness in my pocket (as well as some incredibly powerful knowledge thanks to Avalon Teacher Training), and I have to share it. I can finally help!
You don't have to have a mental illness to benefit from the yoga that I teach. But you will benefit anyway. Find out how in my next post, Yoga for Mental Wellness Part 2: The How.