I was diagnosed with mild/moderate depression in November 2007 but I know I had been suffering from it for a lot longer than that, retrospectively. Labels like ‘mild/moderate’ I’ve found to be not very useful. My depression has been debilitating but not constant. I had no major breakdowns, I was never suicidal or aggressive but I also have not been able to function ‘properly’ in the past few years. Still it is ‘mild/moderate’. It is just a label, I know my own mind and my own problems and I’ve learnt to live with them.
Soon after the diagnosis I was comfortable with the idea I was depressed. So I’m depressed, what am I going to do about it? I know! Yoga! Yoga is good for people with depression. I had never even thought of doing yoga before, I wasn’t even sure what it was. All I knew was I’d seen yoga mats in TK Maxx and I wanted to know all about it. So I bought a book and a dvd and I clung to them like a drowning person to a life ring. I read the book cover to cover (it was The Yoga Bible) and I did the dvd (AM and PM yoga for beginners) every morning. After so much suffering and misery I knew peace and excitement. I knew I’d found something good, something I could learn and enjoy. Yoga was a deep well and I was at the top looking down, knowing I wanted and needed to know what was at the bottom.
Still yoga hasn’t cured me of my depression. Here we are, 3 and a half years after my diagnosis, I do yoga daily and I am not recovered. I wake up sad on average 3 days a week and in these days I can’t do all the things I want to do. But I have learned over these years what will be good for me on these off days and I thought I’d share them on this post.
Now, we’ve all heard that ‘exercise is good for depression’ and this is true. But how many times have I woken up depressed, unable to even decide what clothes to put on, or how to exercise and thought those words and felt even worse? Sometimes we all have to accept that we cannot do what is best for us, it just is not possible to go out for a run when you’re hyperventilating! So we all have to be kind and accept where we are and do what we can to help ourselves. I have many different forms, or nuances to my depressive moods and luckily there are many different ways of doing yoga! Here are just a few different moods and what I do to help myself cope, in handy bullet-print form:
- Unable to concentrate or focus on anything: Kundalini yoga or gentle Shiva Rea style vinyasa with no long holds and lots of flowing movements
- Absolute sadness and tearfulness: Pranayama
- No energy: Restorative or Yin yoga
- Recovering from a low period: vigorous Vinyasa yoga