I’m too Depressed for Yoga
The thought of pulling out my mat fills me with Dread
We all have that one friend with waaay too much energy. She’s cute, bubbly, and is always inviting you to join her at yoga.
Umm, that’s a hard pass.
No way am I going to set up a yoga mat next to her. For starters, she is always yoga ready. I mean she’s permanently in yoga pants. You know the ones with the little extra cinching in the back to accent her already perfect bum. Her “Spiritual Gangster” shirt paired with a soft blazer has her looking smoking hot and more professional than me any day of the week. Top that off with a messy, just threw my hair up in a bun look, paired with perfect eye makeup.
How is this possible? I walk from my apartment to my car and my hair is out of place. My make-up is off by the time I get to work, except for the smeared bit of mascara under my right eye because my allergies were so bad I rubbed it on the way in.
Sorry sister. The last time I thought “that might be fun” was when I headed to the YMCA for an aerobics class in the mid-’90s. That was an utter embarrassment as simple instructions like right arm stretch, left arm stretch, walk in a circle, quickly advanced to “put it all together! Right, Left, circle, step, up, down, spin it around. Now do it in reverse!”
What fresh hell had I entered into?
The old ladies were sweating along and laughing at me, the obvious outsider. One or two even congratulated me after class and told me to keep it up and I’d get there soon.
Thanks ladies, except I’m never coming back.
You see the thing is I lean towards depression, and I’m not in the mood to be laughed at and made to look a fool. Talk about anxiety! But I do love to stretch and my energetic buddy knows it. Naturally, she wants to help. I tell her I need to be more active and we often share stretching tips. But the thought of heading to another vinyasa flow class sounds both intimidating and less than thrilling.
I’m not unhealthy, in fact, I’m both a yoga teacher and a breath coach. See I love to help people like me, who don’t see a reflection of themselves in the western yoga world.
I love subtle slow movement. Something more on the lines of Ti Chi, Yin Yoga, and breathwork meditation.
- Give me time to get into a pose and breathe.
- Let me feel the energy start to shift from within as I breathe through a deep spine inflection.
- I want to go deep into the subtle movements of my body to really feel what’s going on inside.
- Swim through the thoughts of frustration and circumstance that try to pull me from my practice and help guide me to self-reflection
- Feel the deep release that happens from within the moment I let go of tension I wasn’t even aware I was holding.
- Use my breath as a tool connecting me continuously from the outer to the inner world.
My perfectly put-together friend finds this work too slow for her active mind. I argue that this is the point, to slow down and go within. Yet I understand this, just like vinyasa, it isn’t for everyone.
Slow and Mindful Intention
When I get on the mat I am looking to feel my cellular body, not get an intense workout. I want to show others a path like the one I have found.
Too often I hear people discount yoga as an option for themselves because they don’t feel they fit the look, or because they aren’t super bendy.
Umm…. let me raise my hand to that.
I am not super bendy, and I don’t fit the mold.
I understand why others feel this divide because I feel it too. It’s why I won’t go to class with my friend. I can just scroll through her Instagram to see how awesome and bendy she is, I don’t need that first hand. She works hard to do inversions and fancy poses and I think it’s amazing, but I equally think it’s important to share that looking good in poses is not what yoga is about.
Yoga is about connecting your mind and body.
This is why I believe subtle yoga is the key.
Your breath, prana, is your life force. When you slow down and begin to focus on your breath you begin to change the chemistry going on inside.
Focusing on your breath and using slow intentional movements brings your attention to your body. This allows your mind to have time to relax from the constant chatter and stories you tell yourself.
With your mind out of the way, your body can start to naturally do what it’s designed to do, heal. Depression, anxiety, chronic pain, inflammation all begin to process from a biochemical standpoint.
There has been a ton of research showing how yoga can improve brain chemistry. Holger Cramer is a yoga researcher out of Germany and he has decades of studies that indicate how a slow, yoga practice offers a compassionate avenue towards self-awareness. Awareness is the key to rewiring your nervous system.
Awareness through subtle slow movement has the power to improve biological, physiological, social, and spiritual growth.
If you are seeking answers to move out of depression, anxiety, or need time away from your thoughts, slow subtle yoga practices might be right for you.
These classes are full of people just like you.
- We might not be super bendy
- We might not have fit firm bodies
- We might not be young and full of energy
But we are supportive and were all on personal paths towards healing.
You can start your journey into these more subtle practices safely at home. No watchful eye pointing out what you’re doing wrong. Just guided instruction and healing words.
The next time a friend invites you to go sweat it out with them I invite you to reflect on what they’re really offering. They are your friend after all, and they want to share with you something that is making a positive impact in their life. They want to see you happy and healthy. They want to connect.
I invite you to not immediately go to the story you’ve been telling yourself about not fitting the mold, or being too depressed. Rather thank them for caring and wanting to include you in part of their journey.
I invite you to explore subtle yoga and see how you benefit. No yoga pants required.