The therapeutic and healing properties of yoga are well-known and studied. People from all walks of life come to yoga looking for relief from physical and mental trauma. Doctors recommend the use of yoga for patients experiencing chronic pain, mobility issues, and even some mental health concerns. Yoga can be gentle, it’s reflective and peaceful, and the spirituality of yoga practice can soothe even the most tired and tumultuous soul. Maybe that is what made me, a then 31-year-old first-time mother with no previous experience in yoga, roll out a mat for the first time during my baby’s nap. And maybe it is what drove me, two years later, to sign up for a yoga teacher training course.
An estimated that one in eight women or as high as 20% of women will experience postpartum depression. Common symptoms are insomnia, loss of appetite, intense irritability, and difficulty bonding with their baby. My experience with postpartum depression began just 24 hours after delivering my son. I became a paranoid, angry, and emotional mess. I went from being terrified that something would happen to him to having absolutely no interest in being a mother. I was exhausted, but I couldn’t sleep. I cried, and cried, and cried, and then would be numb for days. I didn’t understand what was happening to me. My doctor prescribed Zoloft and I felt like I was underwater. Nothing worked, nothing helped.
Before I had my son I was a runner. After I had him, during the worst of the postpartum, I tried running again. Running had made me happy, but it was now one more thing to do – there was no feeling of euphoria when I finished an especially long or difficult run. One day, I decided to try something new. I bought a mat for five dollars at our local Five Below and began surfing YouTube for a decent video. I was too self-conscious to go out and take a class. I didn’t even want to tell my husband who always supports me.
I found Yoga With Adrienne and queued up one of her beginners’ videos. Twenty minutes later I lie face up on the mat, a little winded, but feeling accomplished. Feeling hopeful. For the first time in months. I didn’t get to it every day. I was a working mom and we don’t always have time. But I made an effort and it gave me a ladder out of the well of depression.
I continued individual practice for two years before deciding to enroll in a teacher training program to build my own wellness program for postpartum women.
The community I found online through my teacher training program with YogaRenew gave me friends that shared my passion for yoga and healing. Learning about how breath work, which hadn’t been a focus in my limited individual yoga practice, could manage stress and bring awareness of self allowed me to battle minor depressive episodes. The program’s comprehensive overview of anatomy and physiology allowed me to finally begin building a program for women that I felt confident would be safe for anyone. I learned about adjustments and modifications to poses that both helped me enhance my individual yoga practice, but encouraged me to know that the women I will help in the future, even if they have limitations, will be able to use the knowledge I am gaining.
Yoga hasn’t been an outlet for me, it’s been an anchor. Something I can count on when everything else in my life seems chaotic and I feel myself spiraling towards a depressive episode.
Yoga teacher training has empowered me with more training and knowledge to know that even though my healing journey isn’t over I am headed in the right direction. There is something empowering about teaching others how to heal themselves.
Learning yoga helped me recover from a debilitating condition. In learning how to teach yoga and its philosophies I am helping other women like me recover from the same condition. Yoga teacher training isn’t just a way to learn yoga, it’s a way to learn a lifestyle change. It is a way to bring change to people that need it in their lives.