Yoga and Mental Health – How Pippa Found Herself on the Mat

Since the age of 16 I have suffered on and off with depression and anxiety. Looking back, I fell into a pattern of enjoying about 2 years of mental wellbeing followed by a relapse. They varied in severity and were at their worst when combined with academic stress. Rather ironically, I had chosen one of the longest courses – it takes 7 years to become an architect! I used a combination of medication and therapy to help me through the trickier times.

At 28 I had a relapse which surprised me and my family because I was qualified and university was a distant memory. I had heard about mindfulness mediation and my GP told me that the local NHS mental health team offered an 8-week course.

I didn’t know when I signed up what a transformative 8 weeks it would be. The teacher, Peter Smith-Howell lead an insightful course; every Tuesday we met at a local Quaker Meeting House and carried out varying meditation techniques from eating a raisin, focusing on the breath along to visualisation exercises. One week we carried out mindful movement and our homework was a daily 20-minute sequence. The next week Peter explained that, what we had been doing, was yoga.

This was the beginning of the most wonderful and nourishing journey which now sees me enjoy the best mental health I have had my whole adult life.

Yoga teacher and psychotherapist Ashley Turner says “yoga is the key to psychological and emotional healing as well as resolving issues with self-confidence, relationships…and more.”

For me, I find comfort and restoration taking time out for myself on my mat. I have made the most incredible friends and been taught by magnificent teachers. Yoga has also taken me to new exciting places around the world and I am now honoured to be in a position to share my love of yoga with my students.

The great thing about yoga is you can tailor your practice to your needs. If I am feeling energetic, I opt for a dynamic flow. If I need a bit of comfort, a restorative session with blankets and props works a charm.

I do wonder if the experience of my late teens and twenties could have been different if I found yoga earlier in my life. However, I am so grateful that my 30’s and beyond will be supported by the extensive physical and mental benefits gained from practicing yoga.

Read more about yoga and mental wellbeing here: https://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/5-ways-yoga-is-good-for-your-mental-health

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