Getting Hot For Mental Health
I've previously written about my experiences with depression and post-natal depression. I don't seem to have that filter that makes me embarrassed or ashamed to admit that, occasionally, I lose my mental shit and need help to pick up the pieces. I'm not boasting - it's not always a good thing. Trust me, dropping the old 'depression-admission' thing can be a bit of a conversation killer but it's important that we change that. It's important that we can talk about our own mental health struggles without people backing away slowly and/or making an abrupt and awkward u-turn in the conversation.
If talking about depression was hard, talking about post-natal depression is even harder. Depression can feel like you're shit at coping with all the normal human stuff. Post-natal depression is all of that with a whole dollop of 'I'm a shit mum as well as a shit human' thrown in for good measure. I'm not saying that one is worse than the other, but there are some unique layers of shame associated with post-natal depression.
HOT FOR MENTAL HEALTH isn't about curing depression or mental health issues associated with pregnancy and motherhood but is about removing the stigma, empowering those who suffer to speak up and to raise a tonne of cash for Cocoon Family Support - a London based charity working with mothers and families affected by mental health issues.
It's also about sharing the love for yoga. When I suffered from depression at any point in my life, yoga helped me. In fact, I'd go as far as to say, yoga saved me. It definitely saved my marriage. For me, I like it hot. You don't have to - that's fine. But the intensity of hot yoga forces me to focus. There's no room for my mind to wander to work, money, marriage, kids. For the whole time I'm in a hot yoga studio, my mind is still and focussed, my breathing is controlled and powerful and I have to look at my own face in the mirror. It's amazing how much that can ground you, connect you to your real self (the one that doesn't give a fuck about anyone else; the one that you need to keep healthy and on side so that it looks after you when you're busy looking after everyone else). Mentally, yoga was there when the bottom fell out of my soul.
Physically, yoga means on a daily basis that I don't ache or hurt when I get up in the morning. A youth spent throwing myself around the netball/basketball court, the gymnastic arena, the tennis court, the rowing boat, the road running races, the swimming pool has played hell with my joints and muscles. Without yoga, I feel crippled getting out of bed in the morning. When my weak-ass back hints at spasming, one session of hot yoga can fix it, calm it down, pour soulful water on the burning muscles.
So, over the next 15 weeks, I am going to be training at the Hot Yoga House in Eastcote, to take on the biggest physical and mental challenge of my life: I'll be completing 5 hot yoga sessions in one day between the hours of 6.15am and 9.30pm. Along the way, I'll be dragging along those people that I know with big followings so that they can help me raise awareness, spread the word and get the cash in (watch out guys, I'm coming for ya!)
I'll also be here regularly blogging about my journey. Expect tears, hysteria, laughter and probably more than the occasional namaste...or should that be mamaste?