Yoga journey with Anxiety and Depression | The Exploring Yogini | The Exploring Yogini

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Where to begin?? First, mental illness’ are not something to be ashamed of having. They are more common than we expect & it’s okay to experience it. Mental illness’ don’t make us inferior or crazy. They mean that we are human. To be human means that we are susceptible to experience atypical chemical reactions or lack thereof in our brain. . 

My brief medical history:

After traumatic experiences during my freshman year of high school, I experienced Depression.  In short, I was suffering & turned to self-injury. Additionally, I received a small dose of Fluoxetine (a generic form of Prozac). I’d take it for a year and a half until making the decision to stop medication.

4 years later, I experienced Anxiety after a horrible break up & working in an extremely hostile environment. I was placed on medication once again.  After 6 months, I chose to stop taking my medication in an attempt to find a natural alternative.

I lived with my Anxiety and it’s symptoms for the next three years. I’d take large amounts of Melatonin & Tylenol P.M. to fall asleep at night. It was impossible to sleep because I’d replay conversations over & over again in my head. I’d become energized at night although I was exhausted. My mind would play “what if” scenarios on 10x speed, all while trying to live up to a standard of perfect.

My Anxiety still roars its ugly head here & there. I tend to feel the most anxious when I’m making a life decision or if I’m living up to unrealistic expectations.


How I’ve utilized Yoga to help me cope with Depression & Anxiety.

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Because sometimes a cute dog & a fake smile can’t fix everything.

Ujjayi Breathing

To activate this breath, you seal your lips & take long inhales and exhales through your nose. Tighten the muscles in the back of your throat so that your breath has a loud audible sound.

I am more relaxed & present after several minutes of practicing this breathing. Breath regulation on the mat taught me to pause & close my eyes while focusing on my breath when life feels like it’s spiraling out of control. I’ve done this while waiting for my gas to pump, dealing with stress at work, & when my Anxiety is at it’s all time high.

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I am the one person that I have to spend my entire life with. I may as well treat myself with kindness, love, & respect.

I am my highest priority.

When I step on my mat, I know that I have exactly one hour to put myself first- that no one or thing matters at that moment. That I am free to be as selfish as I’d like. I try my best to take advantage of those 60 minutes. I have the tendency to replay scenarios (real & make-believe) over-and-over. During my yoga practice, I am able to identify what’s bothering me. I take mental notes of the thoughts that come up over and over. I then count the length of my inhales & exhales- it gives my mind a healthy activity to focus on. This realization brings me back into my body and able to manage what is currently happening.

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Making time to do what I love has been vital in improving my mental health.

Finding self-love through movement.

The movement helps me learn to love my body- every single part of it. For what feels like my entire life, I’ve wished that my belly wasn’t as jiggly or my arms weren’t as hairy. Yoga has taught me to look further inward rather than my body’s outside appearance. I now have gratitude for my ability to move my limbs & to be able to consciously make decisions regarding my health & body. As an added benefit, my body knows how incredible it will feel post yoga. Instead of feeling tense in my shoulders or sore in my lower back, I find that I have more space.

My favorite classes are always candlelight. The dim lights give my nervous system permission to slow down, to breathe, and to care for myself. Instead of being on high alert, it’s time to stretch and breathe with intention.

I am so grateful for the practice of yoga and everything that it has helped teach me. Although I no longer experience Depression, I still experience Anxiety at times. Yoga has taught me healthy techniques that tend to alleviate almost or most of my Anxiety.

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Pranayama- the practice of focusing on your breath.

How you can utilize yoga for your Anxiety & Depression

    • Start practicing anyway that you can.
      • Try watching Youtube videos like this one.
      • OR practice at a fitness center or yoga studio in your city. A public class gives you the community aspect. The communicty helps us feel like we’re a part of something bigger. I love going to a yoga studio because then it’s an immersive body experience. The movement, the smells, and the heat are revitalizing.
    • Start learning how to meditate. Explore with Youtube videos like this one or the Mobile App Headspace or Calm. You can even put on some calming music & go for a walk in nature. There are so many different ways one can meditate!
      • Please note that meditation isn’t something you’re good at. It’s o.k. if your mind wanders or you feel distracted. Meditation is a learning process. Explore the different types of meditations and see what you like most.
    • Diffuse lavender oil during stressful situations. Lavender oil has calming & restorative properties. Every night before bed, I diffuse lavender to help me sleep at night. ***The essential oil links found in this article are “affiliate links” meaning if you were to purchase items through the links, I would earn a small commission. Purchasing through the link is at no extra cost to you & helps support me in my entrepreneurial endeavors.
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This photo was also taken during an extremely unhappy time in my life. At this time, I was beginning to learn healthy coping mechanisms for my Anxiety.

To conclude

Their are many treatments for Anxiety & Depression. Yoga is one way that I have found tremendously helpful.

If you’re experiencing Depression or Anxiety, know that it doesn’t have to rule you or your life. Please know that you are not alone. Utilize the many techniques & avenues to help you overcome your  challenges.

If you need a friend to talk to, please reach out.

If this post resonated with you, please sign up for my seasonal email list here.

Sending so much love & peace your way
Jenna

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