Yoga Quota's referral scheme, where our charity partners like Mind refer their clients to come and practice at the studio just like a regular studio client, has been one of YQ"s most successful approaches to spreading the benefits of yoga.
To date, we have over 78 referral clients, who practice at the studio for free. This means that not only do they benefit from the practice of yoga, but they also become engaged with our supportive and vibrant studio community.
In this incredible moving account, one referral client shares how their yoga practice has saved their life.
If you've ever wondered why YQ exists as a charity, or why you tally off after class, it's for this reason.
-- Harriet x.
Thoughts on depression and anxiety, and how regular yoga practice is helping me with it
I was in a dark, dark place then. Dark and lonely and overwhelming. It felt like being stuck in a long tunnel with no end. Dark and empty and freezing cold. The doctors told me it is called “depression”.
When it got better, light could be felt somewhere at the end of the line. It gave me hope. But with new hope came an avalanche of fears and impossibilities. A constant struggle. It was a dreadful illusion. I knew there was a way out. But I was always sure I was never going to make it to the end. The doctors called it “anxiety”.
I was wrong thinking “no way out”. In the end, I made it through. All the way to daylight. I lived with depression and anxiety for a while. Until it gave me enough space to wonder, get informed and have a breather.
Then I started to look for up-to-date information about my condition. It led to specific types of treatment, like CBT talking therapies, medication, exercise. And it included yoga and mindfulness meditation. I trusted renowned scientists and tried. And it worked, in addition with all the rest. Friends and treatment helped, immensely. They kept me alive. Held my head above water. But yoga shared with others brought me true joy and true comfort. Yoga saved my life.
Now I know I was wrong back then. I was sure it would never end, these depression and anxiety feelings, but it did. Eventually, it does, if you trust the process in yourself enough. It may come round again, but you have tools to work with it and live with it. If you let yourself get to do what you need to get better. That’s the whole trap about it. It feels endless but it does cease. It feels like you will never get happiness to reach you again, but you do experience positive feelings again. When you’re strong enough to make some space for yourself, your body and your mind, then there is a way.
I met just the right yoga teacher for me. I trusted her as she obviously was trying to make me learn and be autonomous in my practice. I learnt the few first movements and felt like an opening within me. Suddenly, hope was possible. Every time I practised my own yoga sequence, my hope would grow just an extra bit bigger. Getting back in touch with my body helped me improve my overly negative thinking. Practising with others made me confident and happier. It was just as if working on my body was opening up my cluttered mind. A blessing. A wonder. An unbelievable relief. I can say clearly now: yoga saved my life.
Years later, I had become an almost specialist. You’re always a beginner in yoga, the wise man says. My life was smooth again, I was practising daily, all was well in the world. Then my life got shaken again. Badly. Things you would have never wanted or chosen and are so incredibly tough to go through and you can’t control but you have to deal with no matter what. My new condition made my body fall apart. I became unable to move like I wanted or run or do my yoga. Furthermore, depression and anxiety came round again uninvited. I was terribly unwell again, but I knew what to do. I needed professional help. And I needed yoga.
I could not afford yoga classes. Disease had prevented me from working for months, so I had to live with scarce income. I needed yoga badly but I was too unwell to practise alone. Depression can destroy your will so deeply you can’t find how to do good for yourself. I had been there before, so I knew there are ways to get help out there.
I reached out to my real friends. They wisely advised to get professional help and walked with me through the different steps to get there. I spoke to my GP. I spoke to specialists. They managed to stop my new physical condition, lucky me. But I was still struggling badly with good old stress, anxiety and depression. I spoke to wonderful charities who help people in these troubled times. They helped me revive my CBT knowledge. Yoga was one of the precious skills I learnt from it. They registered me for the Yoga Quota scheme. And as I was back there into the dark tunnel again, Yoga Quota helped me out.
The Yoga Quota team invited me in with warmth, just like everybody else. They gave me space to practise. They guided me through simple postures and breathing and everything with it. I started practising again, slowly, little by little. Like an animal lost in the desert learning how to drink again drop by drop. I was guided by playful and knowledgeable good souls. Vinyasa after vinyasa, my body and my mind opened up again. Weeks down the line, I could see myself walk with my head up high again. And as my body was getting stronger and slightly more flexible again, my mind was getting lighter. I could let glimpses of insight show me which was the right way to go. Once again, yoga saved my life.
I am well again now. I have made it through again. I am back to practising yoga daily on my own. I am also going to attend classes with others as often as I now can. I have finally managed to make the changes that I had to make in my life. Only I was too fragile to make them earlier, and now I am stronger again. And I know that if life brings me that sort of challenge again, I now am equipped. There are people out there to help. Friends. Professionals. Yoga Teachers.
I mean it when I say: yoga saved my life. One day, I hope, I as well will share yoga with others, as a teacher. I am endlessly grateful to the Yoga Quota team for helping me out when I needed. For giving me a chance to practise when I could not otherwise. For guiding me simply, posture after posture. Back again from that gloomy place out there, back into the light.