Combating anxiety through yoga: a practice for mental health


Statistics show that one in four of us will suffer from some form of mental health issue at one point in our lives or another. I’ve been part of that one in four and I know some of my friends have been too.

My journey with mental health has definitely not been easy; I’ve had ups and downs as most people do. Life throws you curveballs, which are sometimes so hard to deal with that you become anxious and depressed – and it’s perfectly natural for that to happen.

After having struggled with anxiety myself for almost three years, and having watched my friends struggle, I’ve developed an x-ray vision into suffering – as I’ve begun to come out on the other side of it.

Those dark days shaped me. They felt endless at the time, but I am glad I went through them as they put me on the path that I am now on and introduced me to the things that saved me.

My savior is Yoga! My practice is the only constant thing that is there to balance me out. Just sitting on my mat and soaking up the energies off my mat lifts me and re-calibrates me if I am having a difficult day. Pranayama (yogic breathing) is what has really saved me.

Learning how to control my breathing taught me how to control my anxiety.

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The increased awareness of my body and emotions also shows me when a situation is uncomfortable for me. At one point, it wasn’t that simple and there are days where I have to sit and be with that suffering and pain. I found that in my darkest depths I ran and hid away from my pain and that just made it worse. Facing it is brave and it helps!

If you’re struggling currently… reach out! A friend, a family member, a doctor! Just reach out. It may seem scary but you won’t regret it. We need to start engaging in a conversation to shift perceptions and help people to move through the dark depths of struggling with mental health. It is a lonely place and doing something to make it that little bit less lonely is always a really big step.

If you can find a practice, whether that be yoga, running, meditation, journaling (that is what inspired me to set up my blog!), walking or some form of self-care… Do it!! Yoga helped me so much and I will be forever grateful for my practice. It is there for me whenever, especially in the moments where I least want to as I know they are the moments that I most need it.

By writing this I am hoping to open up a conversation about mental health as sometimes talking about it can create a sense of community amongst people who struggle with similar things.

We need to start a revolution and we need to start talking – keeping mental health out in the cold is only making the issue worse. There is such a lack of understanding and that needs to be shifted.

We need to know that taking a mental health day is ok. Taking things at your speed is ok. Just know that whatever you need to do is ok!

by Catherine Owen

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