Depression is not always the stereotype of the sad and down person. Depression can be smiling, going on trips, playing with children, laughing with friends as the person seeks to get a glimpse of happiness again. As a person seeks to escape the deep and murky darkness of their inner turmoil. Happiness is fleeting, a phenomenon that we are always seeking. It is much easier to grasp sadness than it is happiness. But depression is more than an attempt to hold on to the happiness that comes in episodes. Depression is a serious mental illness that there is a lot of verbal attention given to but not enough action in the medical or mental health fields. Depression is a mental illness and a serious medical illness. With that knowledge, why is the onus placed only on mental health professionals to provide care for the individual suffering from depression?
It would be beneficial for the individual with this medical illness to have a team of medical professionals working together with mental health professionals. For example, those with cancer have a team of providers to support them not an individual doctor. This could be part of the reason why those with depression and other serious mental health illnesses feel so isolated. When you are diagnosed with a serious medical illness, there are already providers in place that come up with a treatment plan unless you have a rare illness. With depression, many people become disillusioned because they are working either with a therapist alone or a psychiatrist alone or with no one.
If you are on medication, your psychiatrist and your primary care physician should be in communication, there should be a neuropsychologist and a therapist. Then the support system should be involved. However, this is not possible for many people to have a support system which is where group therapy or support groups may be beneficial. The mental health field is hodgepodge with providers working in isolation. A therapist alone can only do so much. Medication can only do so much. That is even if people are okay with taking medication. Many people are fine taking medication for what they consider serious medical illnesses but balk at the idea of taking medication for depression which is a serious medical illness that is chronic and can be terminal.
Those with depression understand that happiness is an episodic phenomenon and it is increasingly difficult for them to envision getting a glimpse of that phenomenon. Not enough resources and research go into mental health. The medical field also has a lack of respect for the mental health field when in fact, both are intertwined. Ideally, there would be a team of professionals working with one person just like cancer treatment. We need to become better at understanding that depression is not just “in their head”, that it is medical. It deserves the same care and attention as a serious medical illness. Maybe just then, there will be more episodes of happiness and less depressive episodes.
How often are you quiet? How often do you just sit with yourself and allow yourself to think and feel? Do you find that you do something else to distract your own quiet? What would happen if you only allowed the silence to be uninterrupted? It can be scary to sit in stillness, to sit in quiet, even for just two minutes. We spend so much time thinking about what we need to be doing or what we want to be doing rather than just being. Interestingly, silence in many places such as cities is not a true concept. However, this can be taken advantage of like a white noise or even brown noise.
We live in a world where it seems everyone and everything is moving quickly. This can lead us to feel that we do not have time to savor quiet focus. It is popular to be busy and seemingly unpopular to not always be involved in some activity. There is a cultural belief that one must always be productive. That leads to the question, what exactly is productivity? What does it mean to be productive? It’s important to have a clear idea of what it means for you to be productive.
Take some time and consider that being quiet and still might actually be a form of productivity. How do you practice being quiet?
When this blog was first started, the intention was to a create a space away from social media such as Instagram to share how yoga and mental wellness can work together. However, life was not considered as a huge unexpected situation arose: COVID-19. One could assume that this would have afforded more time to write. It did not. Like so many others, life had other plans. COVID-19 caused changes; good and bad. For almost a year, my whole family was home together. This drew us closer but that was not the case for everyone.
COVID-19 led to further alienation between people. As there were those who lost loved ones due to COVID, there were other losses that were not accounted for outside of death. Friendships were ended, romantic relationships collapsed, people started paying closer attention to who and what they allowed into their lives whether out of obligation or desire to hold on to an ideal. For example, adult children began reevaluating their ties with their parents and other family members. There were many quitting jobs and examining their career choices. The start of realizing that choices exist.
With choices, it is important to be intentional with them as choices do not come without consequences. The reexamination of blood family ties can cause a lot of hurt. The change in career or quitting of a job can cause financial disruption. Moving mindfully and understanding your intentions can hopefully lead to choices one can live with in equanimity.
It took a while but I’ve returned. How have you fared this past year since the pandemic changed our lives last March? If I go by the big picture, it’s been a challenge and we’re still here. Still gainfully employed and still have a home. There have been some losses. One loss related to yoga is that of Lesley Fightmaster. Lesley passed away in November 2020. Her family has not informed us of the cause so cannot say if it were related to COVID-19. It was unexpected for her family and for her online students.
I’ve never met Lesley personally but I considered her my yoga teacher. I practiced almost daily with her on Youtube, I joined MyYogaPal, I joined her Patreon. She did live chats, was warm, communicative. It was my hope to go to one of her retreats to finally meet her in person. It’s amazing that she was able to make connections with people she’d never met online. And we got what felt like her authentic self. It did not hit me how much of her loss affected me until I realized I haven’t practiced with her since her passing. Not only that, my practice has become sporadic. Lesley was an absolutely amazing yoga teacher. She made yoga accessible and was able to express warmth, focus, and groundedness through the screen.
“Yoga is not about the pose” is what she always said in practice. A reminder that yoga is breath and spirituality. Aspects that many online yoga teachers seem to forget with the focus on making yoga a workout or acrobatics. I always felt challenged yet peaceful after a practice. It’s still hard to believe we’ll never get more classes from her. Thank you, Lesley, for your gracious spirit and wonderful classes. God bless you and your family. Rest well.
The title of this post pays homage to a yogi that I follow on Instagram whom found me because many of my hashtags would include “#badyoga or #badatyoga”. In fact, I still am bad at yoga. I tend not to follow the status quo in my practice and even how I started yoga was not your standard introduction to yoga at the time. Now, it is very normal to practice yoga online. When I started, practicing online using YouTube was not exactly popular. With the appearance of COVID-19, yoga schools and yoga teachers are now adapting and have live classes online which has made yoga more accessible. This is an absolute boon for those like myself who do not have the time or funds to go to a yoga studio. Not to mention, fantastic for those who balked at the idea of going to a studio and feeling unwelcome due to the pretentious yoga teachers and their students.
The more I practice, the more I realize how ridiculous it is to focus on perfection. This is something I’ve repeated many times, progress not perfection. When referring to perfection, not saying one should ignore proper alignment or proper breathing. You want proper alignment so that you don’t hurt yourself but you don’t want to try to push your bodies into angles to look picture perfect. In doing so, you will hurt yourself. This goes for living life. When I push myself to perfection, it causes unnecessary issues. I end up doing too much, overwhelming myself, and inevitably burning out. Going slow is okay, taking detours is okay, and if there is no time limit, taking the process step by step. Sometimes, that even means starting over. I’m bad at yoga because I don’t care if I can do a handstand or a standing split or pincha. I don’t care if my hip is open just a little and not perfectly square. I’m doing what is right for me and going through my process. It is my practice and it is my life.
When I made the inaugural post to my blog on March 18, 2019, I typed that this was a blog to keep me accountable. I have not kept to my goal of posting once a week and this is due to an unexpected but good situation that came up which left me with less time in the day. However, I have still continued to post with it being more like once a month. Now, back to what I was saying regarding this blog keeping me accountable. It was to keep me accountable because I had a goal to start yoga teacher training.
There were a couple of barriers to yoga teacher training. A big one is the financial barrier. I was taken aback at some of the costs of the courses, upwards to $5000! Of course, yoga teacher training will cost money but $5000 is a bit daunting for regular people. Even $1000 can be challenging when you have a family to care for and bills. You wonder if that money could be used for something else.
A 200-hour yoga teacher training will generally run from $1,000 to $3,000 and a more advanced yoga certification course can be anywhere from $1,000 to $7,000.
Yoga teacher training was looking like a pipe dream and I set my goal for it anyway. Then I got a text from my sweet friend (whose name is one of the colors of honey – what are the odds???). She knows my other obligations but felt I would still want to see this information. In the text was a link to a yoga studio that is offering a Yoga Teacher Training Scholarship for Black Wellness. The teacher felt the need to offer this training under a scholarship to help increase diversity within the yoga community and in the health and wellness world as a whole.
We are needing light in our world right now. We are dealing with a pandemic and the tragic death of George Floyd which has rocked the country. All this combined has left me reeling and feeling overwhelmed, then I received this drop of honey. It was a reminder that there is support, light, and love still here. I have enrolled in YTT and I will reach my goals.
Hello, honeybees! It’s been a while since there’s been a post. In my life, the quarantine has made things even more busy. What have you been doing during this time? Have you been taking care of yourself? Businesses are starting to reopen and many people are living their lives as if COVID-19 doesn’t exist.
There are those of us who are making small and conscious changes to improve our lives spiritually, mentally, and physically. A couple of days ago, I was thrilled to get a text from a really good friend telling me that he had begun practicing yoga daily. He has been practicing for 12 days straight. That may not seem like a lot but it is for someone who has not done it before. To take the leap to care for yourself in healthy and sustainable ways is to be appreciated and applauded.
As much as I practice the physical part of yoga, it’s been a challenge for me to focus on the more meditative aspect. So for the past two weeks, my goal has been at least one meditation session a week. The session could be as short as five minutes. Even five minutes has made a difference. I meditated before work and a stressful day was handled a lot better because of the grounding that had been done that morning.
The pandemic has made many people even more on edge and agitated than usual. High levels of stress is deleterious to not only our mental states but our physical states as well. These high levels can increase our blood pressure, mess with our immune systems, impair our judgement, hinder our memory, essentially wreak havoc. We must be mindful of our stress levels. It can be difficult when we have so much to do. That is when we must stop and even if it’s just for five minutes, breathe. If we have too many thoughts in our head, have a notebook next to us, where we can write those thoughts that we don’t need in that moment. Let those five minutes be your time and your time only. Be your own shelter of peace.
Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.
Around the world, we are all dealing with the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. In the US, we have found our lives startlingly different than they were a month ago. Going into our third week of social isolation including schools being closed, I am finding appreciation. I have not been thankful enough for the things that I have. My family does not have a lot but we do not have a little. We have a lot more than many people in our country and around the world. We have resources that are helping us get through this period in our life and we have support.
In my yoga practice, at times I would lament about not being able to afford classes in a yoga studio or not having the time to even go to yoga classes in a studio if I did have the discretionary funds. Now with yoga studios closed, yogis are turning to their home yoga practice. I am thankful that I can even practice at home, that my body is still able to work into asanas, that my breath is still circulating within and throughout my body, I have a mat to practice on, and access to many online yoga instructors. I still have access to the internet and the technological tools needed to even watch the online yoga instructors. With that said, the beauty of yoga is that you do not need any of the latter. All you need is your body, breath, motivation, and the willpower to start practice. I have had more than enough this whole time.
My son is also home from school, my husband is also home from work, but we are both able to work and my son is able to continue his studies. We are able to work because we are both blessed with jobs that are considered “essential” even if our pay does not represent that! Ha. However, with that being said, we are able to continue to work from home. Our son is still able to do schoolwork because we have workbooks and access to the internet. There are children who do not have computers or access to the internet. Two things that many of us take for granted and feel lost without. We have food, water, shelter, and each other. Am I worried about COVID-19? Absolutely. I am also going to appreciate the time it has given us to spend together as a family and to slow down.
“Healing is not about ‘staying away from something bad’ but about living a life led by positive values & intentions’” ~ Gabor Maté
Yoga is a physical practice for a spiritual purpose. Powerful words from Rajat Thakur. Yoga is like a dance, it is communicative, tells a story. It combines power and grace, words that seem to have different meanings. When we think of power, sometimes violence or aggression comes to mind or being in control of others. Yoga reminds us that power is beautiful and graceful when you are in control of yourself. The name of the poses themselves are even powerful yet they look graceful such as reverse warrior. The word “warrior” itself speaks of power, yet when you look at the pose, it is reminiscent of a dancer. There is an actual asana called “dancer” which requires a great amount of internal power and flexibility.
Yoga teaches us about the power and grace within ourselves. Working on giving grace to ourselves and others can be very challenging. Even in my practice, I find myself losing grace towards myself. I judge myself and nitpick. It takes away from the power of my practice as well. That also affects my whole day, if I lose power and grace within my practice. We are also living in a time where I am feeling powerlessness creep in and a lack of grace. We are dealing with COVID-19 and if I am being honest, there is some anxiety. I am worried and at the same time telling myself “It is what it is.” We cannot live in fear but we can be cautious. This why I need to ground myself in my internal power with yoga, find balance to bring grace. The schools are closed which means my son is home during the day when he normally would not. Instead of fretting about it, this is a time to strengthen the power of our relationship and teach him more about grace.
Taking care of your spiritual self helps not just you but others and their spirits. In stressful times like right now when we do not know what each day will bring, it is even more important to feed our spiritual self with power. This can be done with the grace of prayer, yoga practice, and any other type of physical movement. It is also important to wash your hands.
One morning as I was practicing yoga, my son came up to me and gave me a hug. He then whispered “I love that you do yoga”. As long as he can remember, I’ve been practicing yoga. He has always been there and is the catalyst to my continued practice. I have come to the realization how important it is to his little mind very recently. On a playdate not too long ago, I overheard him tell his playmate proudly “My mom does yoga, too.” I smiled inside because he associates yoga with me and he enjoys that I practice.Yoga is personal but not personal. The practice colors how I interact with others, with the world. I practice it in the privacy of my home, it feels intensely personal, yet my son watches, he is affected by my practice. Sometimes, he participates as a child can, many times he gets in the way. However, he knows that it’s a part of me and his acceptance of it and willingness to learn teaches me a lot about accepting those you love for who they are.My son’s love for me and who I am has led to loving myself and in turn, others more than I had before. His love reminds me that there is always at least one person who cares. Even if it feels like they’re getting in your way.
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