Yoga, Mental health and softening the edges of emotions..
For those of you who don't know me, my names Gareth. I live on the East Coast of Scotland, and have practiced Yoga for 9 years and been a teacher for coming up on 3 years. I first got interested in yoga for the physical benefits (I'd read it could tone muscles and improve muscle definition.. I know, vain, right?). Over the years, my practice has ebbed and flowed from being an Ashtanga yoga die hard, to a restorative, yin and vinyasa lover.
That's just it, though, I really do love it, there's very few forms or styles of yoga that I don't enjoy.
What kept me practicing over the years?
For me, the story changed quite dramatically over the years. I traversed through various levels of my own ego. I loved the practice, the evolving of the postures as your flexibility and strength progressed, but I did allow it to get to my head. I loved to be a bit of a show off.
I was a bit ignorant to what was going on under the surface. The more I ignored it, the louder the inner voices got until I couldn't ignore it anymore. When I was around 22, I was working as a Head Chef. I'd worked my way up the ladder, rather quickly, in a small hotel in the area. For me, it was too much. The stress, the hours, and the amount I had to put up with at that age made me quite unwell. I could hardly sleep, I was constantly stressed, and always exhausted.
My social life suffered, my health deteriorated, and my relationships collapsed. Eventually, enough was enough, and I quit and my relationship fell apart. I moved home to my parents house, and took a few months to get back to some stability. I'd ignored something bubbling under the surface my whole life, and through alcohol, smoking weed, playing video games and working until the skin fell off my bones (metaphorically).. I had numbed my way into a hole.
I was deeply depressed, and really anxious. I didn't even know what anxiety or depression really was until around 22. I didn't want to believe I was "this bad", that it was just "a rough patch and it would get better". Well, it didn't. Because I'd ignored it and numbed from it for so long, it was potent and consuming.
Not to get too far into the details, but it really sucked. On one hand, Yoga helped.
When I was out of a job, and trying to figure myself out. I showed up each day, to a yoga practice. I read into its philosophies, as well as into buddhism and meditation techniques. It softened the edges. It in no way, removed my problems or make them easier, but It made it easier to cope, it eased the symptoms so to speak. Showing up each day to tend to myself, and show my body and myself love and attention, was something I'd never really done with such intent.
Don't get me wrong, I was still bloody miserable.
Bottom line, Yoga gave me tools to cope, and it made me accept the way that I was. Even if it was a miserable, anxious fucker. It allowed me space to just be, and gave me a reason to keep going. It showed me moments of peace within my mind that I'd never experienced anywhere else, with anything else. It allowed me to reconnect to my body and ground my emotions before they got out of control.
It eventually led me into further counselling, mindfulness based CBT (Cognitive behavioural therapy) which was also beneficial in my pursuit of easing my sufferings.
This lead me to teaching
The reasons I explained before, of easing my suffering, reconnecting with my body and my self, self acceptance, and finding little moments of clarity and peace, is the reason I wanted to share and commit to yoga in this way.
I figured if it could help me this much, then maybe, just maybe it could help others as much as me, and that's why I'm here writing this and welcoming you to my blog.
In my blog you'll find everything from mindfulness practices, personal journal entries just like this one and in depth information about yoga as a whole.