You watch TV, you've seen the commercial. The truth is that depression does hurt.
it was not my intention to choose depression as my first blog topic. It was simply too easy and too cliche. Nevertheless, I was lucky enough to attend a workshop with Amy Weintraub-the ultimate Yoga for Depression Guru. So, it is what it is.
Anyone who has battled depression can tell you that, as hokey as the commercials are; it's true- depression does hurt and the pain is not just emotional. It is a pain that transcends sadness. Maybe you have gone through a period of depression or you have suffer long-term clinical depression. Either way you understand the utter despair or total numbness that flips your world inside out and upside down. Yet, the pain is physical as well- body aches, migraines, stomach distress are all just the tip of the iceberg.
So you find your way to some sort of help. You begin to take the Paxil or the Prozac or the pill du jour. You are referred to a therapist and you begin to go through the motions of treatment. But imagine the impact of getting out of your head and into your body- this is the start of what yoga can give you. Initially, you create an opening with yoga. Perhaps the muscle aches and the joint pain begin to lessen. And then, slowly, with an open mind and a bit of consistency yoga begins to do it's work on the depressed mind and the wounded soul. The tools of yoga are numerous. Learning yogic breath control (pranayama) reduces anxiety. It works as an escape button for panic attacks. The first breath in the present moment is a baby step to releasing the pain of the past and being free from the worries of the future.
In yoga there is a belief that depression is the result of 2 circumstances. The first is that we forget how interconnected we are and the second is that there is not enough energy (prana or lifeforce as we yogis like to call it) moving through us. Anyone who has fought the fight against the dark demon of depression knows the latter is true. Depression is an energy vampire of Twilight proportions. Yoga creates a place where energy can flow again.
Yoga is not a substitute for medical treatment. Depression is a serious illness with a long road to recovery. But, along with the support of a well equipped counselor and the right medical provider, it can be a bright light during dark days and a way to maintain wellness.
Want to learn more? Check out Yoga For Depression by Amy Weintraub.