Just over 12 years ago, I found myself struggling through the most challenging time in my life. I was in the process of a divorce, had severe depression, cried constantly, and could not focus on my work. On a friend’s recommendation, and at one of my lowest points, I decided to try yoga as a last resort.
Two weeks after starting my practice, to my surprise, I found that I could experience regular moments of peace and positivity, and I could relax my body and mind on command. I stopped crying, started having deep and restorative sleeps, and generally felt calmer and emotionally stable. Yoga had become my source of energy, the fuel for my wellbeing.
I know my experience of suffering is not unique. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that almost three million Australians live with depression and/or anxiety, which affects wellbeing, personal relationships, career and productivity. The suicide figures in the last decade have skyrocketed, and young people are now more likely to die from suicide than car accidents. It comes as no surprise to learn that GPs in Australia claim that over 60% of people seek medical advice because they are suffering from depression or anxiety.
Next week is Mental Health Week in WA, which brings a great opportunity for us to raise awareness on these issues and share ideas that may help our community.
After exploring and enjoying various styles of yoga on my own for some time, I decided to train to be a yoga instructor so I could share this ancient practice and its benefits with others. I have become very passionate about mental health and wellbeing, and have now taught yoga to many patients and professionals from the mental health industry in Perth. They all agree that yoga aids with increasing awareness of thoughts, creating a positive perception of reality, relaxation, better sleep and less stress.
Many scientific studies present evidence showing that yoga can help reduce the symptoms of depression, anxiety and trauma.
This year, Australian psychologist Dr Michael De Manicor, shared outcomes of a study he conducted to test the effects of yoga practice on patients suffering from depression and anxiety. His findings show that six weeks of yoga combined with psychological treatment resulted in a 34% improvement in patients; those who were not practising yoga as part of the treatment improved by only 4%. The 34% who improved with the help of yoga showed significant reduction in psychological distress, lower frequency of negative experience, improved resilience, and an increase in positive thoughts.
Yoga is a practical and sustainable tool for mental and physical health, and is one that is increasingly encouraged in schools and workplaces. Be a friend to someone during Mental Health Week and carpool to a yoga session together or share your experience of yoga with them. You never know how you may help improve someone’s life or health.
Thrive Experiences will be offering by-donation community classes weekly in the Cottesloe and Claremont area for all newcomers to yoga. These will be expanded to other Perth regions in 2018, and will be particularly aimed at those suffering from financial hardship.
I hope you can join me or join the movement to give back to the the community.