I recently posted a blog around The Science of Yoga - a new study showcasing the tangible physical and mental, wellbeing aspects of yoga.
Our bodies are complex to say the least. When I started studying as a yoga teacher - learning about the physiology of our incredible bodies was truly 'awesome' (in every credible meaning of that word).
Our circulatory system, our lymphatic system, the nervous systems, our muscles, the mesmorising and less talked about fascia, (the white stuff that pretty much holds us together) - our organs and how each one supports the other. Your body, my body is truly incredible. And that's not even mentioning the brain, the skin, our immune system, digestion - I could go on and on.
Yoga hits us at a deeper level than simply just a physical exercise.
When I came to yoga I was 23 years of age. I'd been living in London for two years and was heavily burning the candle at both ends. Working and playing very hard. Coupled with a shock family illness that left me with some post traumatic stress - I woke up one morning and opened my door to leave to go to work - and could not take a step outside of the house.
I was having severe panic attacks - I could no longer get on a tube or function in my usual way. My body had gone into panic and shut down - the only place I felt safe was indoors, in my room. Venturing a step further than that - sent me into uncontrollable panic attacks where on more than a few occasions paramedics were called.
Looking back, and for anyone that knows me, they wouldn't believe it - even I find it difficult to believe - but it was a reality. At the time, a living nightmare.
Thanks to wonderful friends and colleagues, I found myself in a doctor's surgery - the standard would have been 6 - 12 months of Prozac - however, I was very fortunate. At the time (and remember this was 25 years ago) alternative medicine was laughed at even more than it is today - however, the surgery just happened to be trialling an alternative 'stress management' course.
For 6 weeks I would attend a weekly class that covered nutrition, relaxation, meditation and yoga.
Those 6 weeks changed my life. I learnt about my body, I connected with my breath and learned how to become in control of my thinking and breathing - in control of myself.
Without any medication - the panic attacks stopped.
The tautness and tightness within my body that comes with stress and tension, released.
I softened in every way. I grew significantly. And whenever, those feelings of anxiety creep in (as they do in life generally) - I have my practise to hook into. My yoga practise keeps me sane, keeps me grounded - it's a safeguard looking after my mental and physical wellbeing.
My story is a very real one - and isn't unique. I've met a lot of people through yoga over the years - and many have turned to yoga as a resource to cope with stress, anxiety and depression.
If you're struggling with depression or anxiety - then my suggestion to you is to at least give yoga a try.
Remember, your body is an incredible system - designed to help itself, your skin will heal itself from bruises or cuts - and in just the same way, yoga can help your body, mind and soul to heal.
Whatever, you do - give yoga a try.