Yoga – a tool to manage depression
My connection to Yoga came at a dark time, when it felt there was no way out of depression. I found my head was all over the place, I couldn’t settle and needed movement to calm my anxiety. I started attending a weekly inclusive yoga class at Huddersfield Women’s Centre. My Monday morning class became my light, to set my week off on a positive start.
It gave me a purpose, I didn’t have to talk to other people if I couldn’t face it, but I could just lie on my mat and focus on movement and breathing. The other ladies attending made me feel very welcome, we all connected for that hour and a half. Knowing that everyone could take part, despite the daily physical or mental challenges we had to endure. Our teacher tended to work on postures and practices that would help calm anxiety. The deep breathing really made a difference to me. I found being at home quite lonely, so when I started to feel the panic rise, I turned to YouTube, where I found “Yoga with Adrienne.” It was like having a friend with me, I could focus on the video, within ten minutes I already felt calmer.
This was over 5 years ago and with the acceptance of my Yoga community spurring me on, I decided to start Yoga Teacher Training. However, soon after starting training lockdown came. I turned to the practices of yoga again to give me the strength to move through the difficulties and give me a focus to keep going. I took a leap of faith and started my own classes in the garden in the middle of Lockdown!
I was touched when my original teacher at the Women’s centre asked me to join her at Umbrella Yoga. This organisation bring the benefits of Yoga to a wider community by supporting people with additional needs. Making Yoga practices inclusive and accessible to all is Umbrella Yoga’s mission. Showing that the benefits of Yoga are much more than stretching. For me it is about connecting the body and mind to release stress, help relax, regulate breathing and be completely present in the moment.
Working at Umbrella I have led Yoga programs for many groups, from chair Yoga for the over 70’s to working with migrant communities. It’s a privilege to be able to share the techniques that have helped me with other people and have a laugh along the way. My favourite feedback being ‘ your yoga meditation is like a massage for the mind’
There are Yoga poses to suit everyone’s ability, for me it’s not about bending into weird shapes! My favourite pose is to lie on my back with my legs up the wall. The perfect pose for releasing tension and calming the body and mind.
Overall Yoga has taught me to be present with difficult emotions, to be patient, to let go and be in the moment. It will always be a part of my life and a wellbeing tool that will continue to help me through the darker times.
Laura, Umbrella Yoga (& Tutor of Yoga: Breathe, Move, Relax at the RWC)
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