“She will need to be under 24-hour surveillance,” the doctor told my mom. In 2002, my senior year of college, I suffered a severe bout of depression. After months of feeling lost, confused and hopeless, I made a half-hearted attempt to escape. I just wanted to disappear and not have to deal with it all anymore. Isolated from friends and real life, I hid away at my parent’s house for 6 months. I didn’t get credit for my classes at the University of Washington and ended up taking classes at my local community college. I was hiding. I gained 30 pounds by trying to numb the pain with food. I didn’t want to face my real life or take responsibility for anything.
Finally, the first day of Spring Quarter, I had a decision to make. Was I going to spend the rest of my life hiding or was I going to join my friends, return to UW and graduate with my class? My brother coached me through it and helped me register for classes. Two hours later I was back on campus. I told myself, “All you have to do today is go to school and come back. That’s it.” After living an adolescence of friends, sports and good grades, I just cracked under some insurmountable self-pressure. Depression paralyzed me with my own thinking. It took a complete rehabilitation with the help of medication, a good counselor and yoga to finally dig myself out of that hole.
I am also extremely lucky to have such supportive parents and forgiving friends. My best friend, in particular, would not let me go. She called and checked in on me even when I wouldn’t respond. She talked to my parents and never gave up on me. I will always be grateful for her undying friendship and loyalty during the worst period of my life.
It was this period of depression and my re-entry into life that truly taught me compassion and self-care. Before that point, I had never struggled. I had never hit rock bottom. It took going all the way down to learn how to start again. During this recovery process, I discovered yoga. I wandered into a beautiful old church that offered yoga classes. I wasn’t sure what they were doing in there, but after one class, I knew I wanted more of it. As I left first class, I felt like I was floating. I hadn’t felt open and free and proud of my body in a long time. I joked with a friend that I just paid $16 to breathe for an hour. It was totally worth it and exactly what I needed. Yoga gave me lifeline, a new path, to lead me out of my depression.
The human body is truly miraculous. It wants to thrive. No matter how much we abuse our bodies, they keep magically detoxifying us. The liver and kidneys clear out all the booze, drugs, excess food, toxins and junk we use recreationally. No matter how bad things get, the body wants to balance out. It’s incredible. Yoga got me thinking about posture and alignment. It inspired me to drink tea and eat more veggies. I had no idea that yoga would lead me to my most exciting adventures of my life, including my introduction to Ayurveda. It all started with just wanting to feel better.
Ten years after my bout with depression, I’m helping others heal through yoga, Ayurveda, teaching and writing. Through one-on-one Ayurvedic Health Coaching and personalized yoga sessions, I guide my clients with genuine compassion, gentleness and positivity. I motivate my clients to let go of perfectionism and self-criticism in order to embrace self-care and gratitude. The results have been phenomenal as I hear stories of improved digestion, reduced anxiety, new home meditation practices and new self-confidence. The big sigh of relief and relaxation that comes during every session shows me that it works. Yoga, meditation and Ayurveda combine to create a little magic. Whenever I am tempted to try to be “perfect,” I just think about how far I’ve come. That allows me to take a deep breath, be easy with myself and feel truly grateful. Yoga saved my life.