If you choose to see everything as a miracle, then where you are right now is perfect. There is nowhere to run to; there is nothing else to do except be in this moment and allow what is to be. From that place of radical acceptance, major change can happen. The first step in any transformational experience is acceptance and surrender to the present moment, the way that it is. From that place we have the awareness, humility and power to change what is.
– Mastin Kipp
Today our student spotlight centers on Chris, who has had an on again off again relationship with yoga throughout the years. He came to Vitality at a time where “life literally felt unbearable.” In his practice, Chris has found yoga to be an effective measure for combating depression and anxiety without any side effects.
“On a daily basis, my yoga practice has a tremendous effect. The stretching of the muscles, the moving meditation, and especially the deep breathing, give me a state of calm and peace at the end of each practice unlike any activity I have ever known.”
Chris is not alone in his experience. Yoga has been proven to reduce anxiety and depression across a range of populations (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
Yoga takes physical exercise to a deeper level. Historically, the Upanishads took the idea of ritual sacrifice from the Vedas and internalized it, teaching the sacrifice of the ego through self-knowledge, action (karma yoga) and wisdom (jnana yoga).
Yoga, as Chris has found, goes deeper into the mind than other forms of exercise, which may offer further explanation. Even small increments of spiritual enlightenment are believed to be the answer to anxiety and depression, which some experts believe to be rooted in an over-active ego.
“Up until recently, I had been on numerous medications along with some addictive practices that were an ineffective way to combat depression and anxiety. On this level, Yoga has given me something to focus on, and look forward to every day. I have been practicing daily for almost six weeks and not only is my depression lifting, but my body is noticeably stronger. I think my mind has gained strength and clarity too.”
And just as enlightenment is the antidote to individual despair, it is the antidote to our collective despair as well. The spiritual journey is not limited to the path of the individual. We’re challenged not just as individuals, but as nations, as groups, and ultimately as a species to become the embodiment of our more loving selves.” -Marianne Williamson
Yoga brings awareness to all that is within and without through deep breathing and slow, concentrated movement and poses. Its teachings are deeply connected to the origins of mindfulness teachings, which focus on developing consciousness through observation (mostly of the breath). Chris had a related aha moment recently:
“I was noticing the undeniable relief I get from the crippling anxiety that I have been stricken with for most of my life. I figured it out within the first few classes on this latest journey. I think a big part of how and why it clicked is the deep breathing. I was already well-trained years ago so my breathing practice is pretty strong. So maybe the real deal is that I am completely clean, sober, and free of all medications, which makes the positive parts of yoga profoundly obvious.”
Chris swears by his daily practice and has borne witness to trans-formative personal growth in a short period of time, which he attributes to showing up to yoga every day. He has been able to remove obstacles and to focus on the miracles of life since having joined the 3 month unlimited plan at Vitality. He describes being filled with gratitude every time he shows up for class, and also notes that he has gained newfound mental strength.
While he hates to miss a day, he is able to accept things as they are due to having established a regular commitment to the practice. Chris also enjoys the social component and family feel he gets at Vitality Yoga classes. He has no plans to stop going ever again.
While yoga classes cannot promise to be an alternative or complete replacement for medications, it is inspirational to hear stories of healing in replace of suppression, and development of coping skills and ease over the inability to move forward.
*please note these are not medical statements or intended to replace medical advice. Please seek knowledge from a licensed practitioner on all matters of depression and anxiety (alongside seeking wisdom and health on the mat)