“each year, approximately one in every five Australians will experience a mental illness…” (1)
I was the 1 in 5 in that statistic…
It has been 48 hours since I hit send on the Bikram Yoga Ascot Vale newsletter, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, announcing not only to our followers of close to 20K, but also to the world that I once suffered from depression. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done – Being raw and open, especially about mental illness…. WAS IT WORTH IT? HELL YES!
You may ask why? The positive response and support received since the post has been outstanding. Overwhelming almost. People reaching out, telling me their story, thanking me for making such a bold move and offering help for the event. This has encouraged me even further to put everything I have into the Bikram Hot Yoga Ascot Vale Mental Health charity event for Global Wellness Day a success.
Global Wellness Day on the 13th June 2015 has inspired me to take action and say ‘YES’ to wellness. Even if it’s only for one day, I want everyone to know, that they are not alone and there is support out there.
For me, The Mat was and continues to be my saviour, but its more than that. It’s the warm, welcoming smile from the teachers when I walk in the reception of the yoga studio. It’s the community vibe that goes with it that makes it so special, almost in a nurturing way. This is why it’s so special to me. I’m sure many will agree.
I truly believe the yoga room, a committed practice and the wonderful warming community associated is your best friend in times of need. Whether that be depression, having a bad day… the list goes on. Half the battle is simply showing up, but trust me… IT IS WORTH IT.
If you are into hard facts and evidence, then here’s a few positive study findings confirming the benefits of yoga.
Yoga reduces stress or assists stress management
Harvard University studies led by Sara Lazar reported that yoga and meditation actually create changes in the brain which impact “regions associated with stress, well-being and intelligence”. Study findings reported that “observing your breath without self judgment actually changes the way your brain is wired.” (2)
Yoga improves mood and functioning
Yoga for Anxiety and Depression, reported that yoga helps increase heart rate variability which is an indicator of the body’s ability to respond to stress more easily. The study reported a group of women labeled as “emotionally distressed” took two 90-minute yoga classes a week for three months. The results were very positive and reported, “…improvements in perceived stress, depression, anxiety, energy, fatigue, and well-being. Depression scores improved by 50%, anxiety scores by 30%, and overall well-being scores by 65%. Initial complaints of headaches, back pain, and poor sleep quality also resolved much more often in the yoga group than in the control group.” (3)
Yoga improves health and fitness
The European Journal of Preventive Cardiology reported that yoga may be as beneficial in lowering heart disease as a brisk walk. Participants in the study reported weight loss (average of 2.3 kilograms) in addition to reduced blood pressure (5 points) and cholesterol readings (12 points). (4)
Regular practitioners of yoga have also been sited as having lower body mass indexes (BMIs) than those who did not practice yoga.(4)
Yoga helps you love your body and yourself
Although harder to quantify, a Harvard publication reported “Better Body Image” (5). It may not happen overnight but if you keep coming back to the mat, I believe you will soon find that peace within that many crave. Yoga teaches us ‘to accept’, to ‘let go’ and to ‘be present’. These skills combined with the use of the breath helps one to grow as an individual… accepting and finally loving yourself.
Yoga is a means of physical, mental and emotional exercise, meaning that you never really can go wrong on the mat as it improves your life, your body, and your whole well-being – both on and off the mat.
I encourage you to find a studio that you enjoy, and feel comfortable and safe. A place that motivates and inspires you to grow and maintain a consistent practice. A place that if you are feeling down, getting out of bed and out the house is worth it as you will feel so much better for it.
See you on the mat
Director, Bikram Yoga Ascot Vale
1 – http://www.mindframe-media.info
3 – Yoga for anxiety and depression – http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/yoga-for-anxiety-and-depression
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