Overcoming PTSD, Anxiety, Depression

Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured, and endure what cannot be cured.  The brilliance of endurance.

I have discovered this to be true in my practice of yoga.  I have taken part in yoga classes before where I would be in poses that would cause me to panic, to hyperventilate, to start to have a serious bout of PTSD, flare up the chronic anxiety I have suffered from for the past 16 years, and to fill me with dread.  I would want to jump up and run out of the class, drive home, and just hide myself under my bedroom covers.  But, I chose to endure, to remain!  To stay strong, to overcome my demons, to stare the enemy in the face of adversity, and know that the Spirit within me is mighty to overcome.

In the deep recesses of the heart is where healing begins.  Yoga is a journey of therapeutic work from the inside out.  It teaches one how to heal from the dreadful thoughts of the mind, the pains of the heart, the demons that lurk from the past, the turmoil and burdens stored in the gut, and the anguish in the soul.  This is where the work begins, this is where the freedom comes.  Learning to face it all head on…….the pain, the demons, hurt, heartache, burdens, dreaded thoughts, anguish, and the fears.

Simply lying in Savasana, a reclined, relaxed position, on the back, on the mat, at the end of a yoga class.  This is supposed to be a glorious pose where the body eventually rests free from thought, free from pain, free from suffering both mentally and physically.  But, not so, for the being inside of me.  There is a battle going on.  There is past and there is present.  There is a desire to live in the moment, to be fully present, living the now, clearing my mind of all distraction.  And there is a painful desire/need to heal, to overcome to endure.  Learning to allow all that is boiling inside of me to be acknowledged, the anguished voice to be heard, the wounds to be treated with a gentle touch.

Thankfully, here lies the process of this healing work, the masterpiece, the grand finale, the clay in the hands of the Potter, all building to the actual climax at the end of a yoga class. The physical and mental body have been on a journey for the last hour or so of class.  The practice brought to light areas that need endurance, that need tender love and care, areas that require a nurturing that only you can give to yourself, and that you must receive from yourself.  The instructor has allowed time to rest in Savasana, and in this time, to reflect on all that was brought to the surface during the yoga practice.  A time of restoration, rejuvenation, and examination.

In this precious time, the deep work of rejuvenation begins.  Stopping life for a few moments to truly reflect.  Allowing the mind, the body, the spirit, to begin to mend, from condemnation, judgments, failures, doubts, pity, anxious thoughts, past traumatic events, suicidal tendencies, depression, aggression, fears, inadequacy, guilt, severe despondency, despair, or even hopelessness.  This my friend is the work, the incredible start on this journey of recovery!

For years my tunnel of life was only black, bleak, desolate, stark, cold, unpromising, and inauspicious.  My life was full to the brim, to overflowing with depression, with anxiety, with fears, with traumatic events, with domestic violence.  There have been many avenues I have taken on my road to recovery.  Yoga is merely one of them, but also the most sustaining of them all.  Yoga has been my climax to all the work along the way, through four years of counseling, physical and massage therapy, the glorious work of rewiring my muscle memory through acupuncture, and desperate enough to finally try an anti-depressant medication for a time, choosing to trust myself, and living blessed with a compassionate spouse and family. Yoga has been key to my Spiritual understanding, to learning to love myself wholly, boosting self-confidence again.  Yoga has challenged me mentally, physically, emotionally, and has socially connected me with other like-minded individuals on a journey to better their lives as well.

Because of my yoga practice, my deeper understanding of God’s love for me, my love for life again; my tunnel is no longer in existence.  What now remains in my vision?  Wide open spaces, mountains of beauty to climb, river rapids to swim through, glorious sunshine on my face, a radiance of well-being, a love for all, a need to teach, to learn, to guide others on this healing path of yoga.  To make known the power within oneself to overcome all odds, to empower others with the tools to desperately want to live fully redeemed from depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

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