How Yoga Helped Me Heal From Deep Depression

Although I never planned to take my own life, I wanted it taken from me. I was done.

I stopped eating, not because I forcefully denied myself nourishment as a form of control or punishment, but because I had lost my appetite. I had lost my will to live. Like an animal does when it knows it's time to go, I allowed time to take its own course with me. I felt it was my time to pass on.

I faded. I was an athletic, 5’6” young woman who lost so much weight that my underwear became baggy, barely staying perched on my protruding hips. I never slept; nightmares of the rape years before, as well as the current harassment I faced on a daily basis kept me up at night. I felt I had no purpose on this earth. My body assumed a concave “C” shape when I was alone in my “can” (what we called our rooms in our the trailers in Iraq). This space was large enough for a single bed, a closet, and a yoga mat.

Although I began sporadically practicing yoga in college to deal with over-training injuries from soccer and ROTC regimens, it was nothing more than creative cross-training to me until I was in the midst of my second deployment in Iraq. Without even consciously processing the higher transformation that was taking place within me, when I was emotionally distraught, yoga gave me clarity. The simple, basic union of breath and movement made space for something very important – my soul. Somehow, when I felt like I was suffocating, my soul had space to breathe.

Somehow, in a body experiencing very physical effects of depression, when I practiced yoga, I had less pain. Somehow, in a world that felt like 24-7 chaos, the mat gave me an anchor point. All of my systems integrated in a way that allowed me to keep functioning when simply surviving seemed impossible.

Thank God for that 3-foot by 6-foot floor space, because it's where I found a place where I could simply breathe without suffocating. I would get on my yoga mat and things would change. I could breathe. I could think. If I was lucky, things would release. I would stretch, and then I would run and feel free.

Stretch.

Breathe.

Move.

Breathe.

Live.

Breathe.

Connect ... connect ... connect

If I was lucky, I would connect; first to something beyond myself, then to those around me, for I certainly was not the only one going through what I was going through. When I realized that – that my lack of "specialness" was actually a blessing in this case – the accessibility to healing became greater, deeper, and more diverse.

Yoga and faith bridged the gap and paved a path to long-term healing.

Namaste.

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