I was practicing yoga for six years before being diagnosed with major depressive disorder. Never was it a form of therapy until after I was discharged from an inpatient clinic. The safety, openness, and release that yoga gave me led to it becoming more than just a physical experience but a therapeutic one as well.
Yoga provided a safe space.
After I was discharged from the outpatient facility for three weeks, I didn’t feel safe. I was no longer being watched or under psychiatric care 24/7. Even though I was given an antidepressant prescription, a new therapist, and a discharge plan, I was no longer surrounded by a community of people who understood me, and I was stripped of my safe place that provided healing.
I no longer felt secure in my home with my parents, and I became fearful of having another depressive episode. This fear trickled into other aspects of my life, too; I soon even questioned whether I was ready to join the workforce. During a moment of clarity, I reflected on what it is that worked for me at the clinic—yoga and meditation.
Soon after this realization, I thought about ways I could start to incorporate yoga back into my life as a first step of healing and acceptance. One day, not too long after being discharged, I unrolled my mat in my room, turned on Yoga Studio app, and flowed for a good hour. That one day of flowing on my mat led to a regular daily practice.
My mat became a place where I didn’t judge myself. It became a place where I accepted myself for who I was. My mat became a destination for tears and fears. It was OK to fall and even quit, sometimes. It was the safety I needed and longed for after my diagnosis. Not only that, but yoga turned out to provide much more in my post-diagnosis life.
Yoga opened my body and, in turn, changed my life.
In my safety, I became more physically and emotionally open.
In my body, pigeon pose no longer became a chore, and wheel pose no longer became a fear. I started to crave further exploration of my limits: how far I could open up my hips, if I could open my shoulders wider in bridge pose.
When practicing the physical positions, I started to open up parts of my body I didn’t even know I could. Every time I came to the mat, it was evident how much I had grown since the last time.
I thought, “If I could grow so much on the mat, why couldn’t I grow after my diagnosis?” I started to open myself up to ideas that I could come out stronger and push past the cloud that followed me. It started with opening my mind to pushing past depression, which eventually led to a release.