Too Depressed For Yoga? (2020)
Depression can be defined as a prolonged state of unhappiness or despondency. Digging a little deeper, the word "depress" comes from the old French word "depresser" meaning "to put/push down by force."
What exactly is it that we're pushing down?
Perhaps it’s uncomfortable emotions that we would rather not feel. Perhaps it’s needs or wants that we ignore or are ashamed to admit to. Perhaps it’s thoughts that we don’t know how to express in a harmonious way. Perhaps we’re hiding our unicorn so we can fit into society.
Perhaps it's a combination of these that effectively means living a life that is not true to ourselves.
I can only speak for myself... Looking back at periods of depression in my life, now it's crystal clear that I ignored my needs and pushed down the emotions that were telling me that those needs were not being met. For me it came from a dysfunctional tendency to self-sacrifice for the greater good, in the name of service. A tendency that still occasionally rears its pseudo-noble head.
Yoga can help us loosen the grip of such tendencies and reconnect with lost, forgotten or orphaned parts of ourselves.
The Classical yogic literature defines yoga as the process of stilling the activity of the mind, "then you will reside in your True Nature". It goes on to say that if you don't have a process for stilling the mind, you will identify with your thoughts.
Too often we believe our thoughts without much consideration. We take them to be true, to be who we are, and often we voice or act on them in a knee-jerk fashion even if they don't serve us.
Practicing yoga helps cultivate: * greater awareness and compassion for our human selves, * an increased ability to zoom out of our thoughts, emotions, sensations, experiences..., * more discernment of which thoughts we give our attention to, * non-reactivity to internal or external stimuli and * an enhanced capacity to choose our responses more wisely.
If yoga has helped you move through depression, please share your experience in the comments to inspire others...