You didn’t get your trumpet exam without a little effort

Posted on 01/01/14

The shop assistant in Mothercare told me quite chirpily that today is considered to be the most depressing day of the year. I nodded at her and tried to smile and bought the baby bouncer. There is no evidence for today – or indeed any other day – being the most depressing. That said, today I woke up in a grump. Even my normally smiley baby seemed morose and pensive. And so I am listening to electro-swing, eating my mother-in-law’s left-over Christmas chocolates, allowing the sun to shine on my face and thinking of all the things I’m grateful for. Whenever I do this, there is one constant. Yoga. (Sorry, husband) I am so very very grateful for yoga. I am planning to teach the first Yoga Therapy for the Mind course since having my baby. And I’ve been thinking how everyone needs to do it. Not just because I run it and that it validates me as a teacher, aids me financially and gives me something to do . . . But because it is brilliant. It is aimed at people with anxiety and depression, those of us who are stressed out, experience panic attacks or social anxiety. If by some stroke of luck that doesn’t include you, it doesn’t mean you won’t benefit (see benefits below). The course was designed by Heather Mason, who herself suffered for many years with depression. In an effort to help herself and others, she now has vast experience of healing modalities, neuroscience, mindfulness and yoga, and has formulated an 8 week course that addresses our mental wellbeing with all of these approaches. The course is a culmination of her whole life’s work. It uses postures, themes relating to mental wellbeing, breathing techniques and mindfulness practises. It is beautifully poised between the scientific and the spiritual. We draw on what yoga practice has been saying for thousands of years, that our own healing lies within us through breathing techniques and postures, and now that science is catching up - for those that need proof and physiological explanations - we have that too. Research has found that yoga:

  • Reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Reduces nervousness and self-criticism
  • Reduces feelings of guilt and defensiveness
  • Improves concentration, self-esteem and emotional stability
  • Induces the relaxation response

Quite a neat package, and that doesn’t go in to the physical benefits. All this, without anything being added to you that isn’t already there. And once you know it, you know it. I use the techniques on a daily basis – not even on my yoga mat, but in the queue at Sainsbury’s, if I can’t sleep at night, when I’m nervous or stressed. I believe the techniques should be taught at school and be given as much importance as any main subject (in some Indian schools before register the kids have ‘calming breathing time’), but it isn’t, so by adults we’re either on some crazy catch-up trying to learn about ourselves and why we feel the way that we do, or totally ignoring the fact that things feel a bit shit / hope that they just change by themselves without us having to do anything. There is a whole toolkit of practises in the course that are handily all built-in to you, that depending on your disposition and mood you can draw on. We explore experientially how the way that we breathe has a direct impact on how we feel, as does the position we adopt physically (think star jumps = yay! curled up ball = rubbish). We learn that alternating between uplifting movement and resting improves our heart rate variability and gives our nervous system resilience (this is good). We don’t claim in the course that your depression or your anxiety will disappear. To an extent, these are necessarily a part of life. Those who have done the course have noted that when they practice and use the techniques they feel better, and when they don’t . .  guess what? So it takes some commitment, a willingness to shift. But you didn’t get your Grade One trumpet exam without a little effort (and that made you feel GREAT). So for short-term relief from the most depressing day of the year, winter blues, for just feeling a bit pants, there is always chocolate and swing music. But once I’m on the sugar crash and I’m all swung out what’s left? Me is left. I am left, that is. And I have yoga to get me through. Courses take place in Norwich in the beautiful Happy Ohm yoga studio. If you want to know more about the course please contact Lou: louisekitchener@hotmail.com Yoga Happy  Happy Ohm Studio     

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The shop assistant in Mothercare told me quite chirpily that today is considered to be the most depressing day of the year. I nodded at her and tried to smile and bought the baby bouncer. There is no evidence for today – or indeed any other day – being the most depressing. That said, today I woke up in a grump.
So I have a baby. Let’s get to the point. My main concern before deciding to have a baby was what would happen to my yoga practice. Even as they sliced me open to deliver my baby into the world I asked the anaesthetist how long she thought it would be before I could do yoga. I love my yoga, you see.
Husband is holding baby. Me: “Okay I’m going to sneak off for some yoga . . . “ H: “How long do you need?” How long do I need?! I don’t need much, I would like about a week, please.