Overcoming Anxiety and Depression: How Yoga Helped me to Heal
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We have all had days where we wake up and feel the weight of the world crushing upon us. For many of us a good cup of coffee and a chat with a friend or loved one can make all that go away, but for others depression and anxiety can feel totally overwhelming.
When Vanessa Fraser took up yoga in 2011 little did she know how much it would help her on her own journey of battling her anxiety and finding time to heal.
“I remember waking up one morning and feeling the weight of the world crushing on my chest.
I have always had anxiety, and depression runs in my family. I spent my teenage years trying to hide myself with alcohol and drugs, trying to cope with everything I was feeling. I think experiencing bullying from my early years is what set off my depression; being bullied about my weight or just who I was in general.
People can be extremely cruel, and often do not think about the years of damage their cruelty can do to someone.
I discovered yoga in 2011. At first, I started because I really wanted to just contort my body in all angles. I had never tried anything of the sort, and wanted to see just how far the body could get pushed. I was still very much in a depressed state and had massive anxiety with just about everything.
But, as I developed a practice, I noticed shifts inside that I could never have imagined. I was starting to feel again, see things in new perspectives and actually felt happy getting out of bed or the house. As I practiced I would spend many sessions at the end laying on my mat trying to comprehend it all, finally being able to let go of some things, or feeling a sense of happiness at the end.
With the breath of yoga, I started to learn how to control my anxiety and how to deal with a burst of it. How to calm down, accept, and move forward. The feelings that would get brought up though were the most challenging. I spent so many years hiding everything; it was quite the rollercoaster, to say the least.
I still have days where my depression surfaces. Where I feel nothing but darkness, hopelessness, and want to revert back to my teenage methods of coping.
But I don’t. I know even in this moment all I need to do is get on my mat, meditate and then flow, and I can get out of this darkness. Moving and flowing through every heart opener makes it possible to release and restore, working on healing myself and my mind.
Yoga changed me inside and out, the asana practice lets me move and work through the anxiety and depression. While the Meditation practice allows me to create new pathways, helps my mind heal and leads me to where I am going next on this journey.
Yoga really is a journey, within yourself. It’s not a competition between other Yogis, it’s not about what you practice, how you practice, what you can do. It’s just about your inner journey and helping you heal.”
Vanessa Fraser has practiced yoga every day since 2012 after the birth of her son. She spent her teen years traveling across Canada before settling down in BC, Canada in 2010. She has a love for photography, travel, sunsets, inversions, and being a mother. Vanessa practices her own blend of Hatha and Ashtanga Yoga, focusing on heart openers and healing. Find out more about Vanessa’s yoga journey by following her on Instagram @rootedinflowing
If you have been impacted by any of the issues mentioned in this article there are loads of ways to seek help. Here are just a few organisations that are always available to offer advice and support.