“Take a step, no matter how small.” ~ BKS Iyengar
Suffering from:

Depression?     Anxiety?     PTSD?     Trauma?     Drug or Alcohol Addiction?

Read on... relief is in sight.

Many people shy away from yoga because they think it involves challenging physical postures, which they won't be able to perform. However, there are many, many yoga techniques that don't require the ability to get yourself into challenging yoga postures, and which, in fact, don't even require a yoga mat.                             
 ~ Amy Weintraub
So how does yoga help?

Yoga helps us by teaching us the art of balancing our multi-dimensional lives while living in a complex world. We work with our bodies (practicing asanas) and learn breath techniques (pranayama) to help us balance our mind states in non-destructive ways. Yoga is a holistic approach that offers a path of healing.

In Western civilization when we suffer physically we see a doctor; when we suffer mentally, we see a pyscologist/psychiatrist; when we suffer spiritually, we seek guidance from priest/ pastor. Body, mind and spirit are treated separately. But in reality, body, mind and spirit are just different manifestations of the same thing. Let me give you an analogy: Water. When it is frozen, it is in a solid state (ice), like the body. When it is in its liquid form (water), it is fluid, like the mind. As a gas (vapor), it resembles our spirit. Same substance - different forms.

Yoga philosophy teaches that we have 5 bodies (koshas) that are all interdependent. The annamaya kosha, the physical body (cells, molecules, tissues, and organs); the pranamaya kosha, which deals with our energy system (prana); the manomaya kosha, which deals with our thoughts, feelings, and emotions as well as our memory and imagination; the vijnanamaya kosha which deals with reason and discrimiation; and the anandamaya kosha, our spiritual body, seat of love and devotion. When these 5 bodies are aligned and in harmony, we walk through the world as an integrated whole being. When the bodies are misaligned, disconnected or imbalanced the system is susceptible to disease and dysfunction - we become separated from our true self. A consistent and dedicated yoga practice helps us keep our five bodies aligned and functioning well.

Postures (Asanas)
Being flexible is NOT A PRE-REQUISITE to practicing yoga. Yes,
yoga is proven to increase flexibility, but that is not what it's about. When we are suffering from a mental illness and/or addiction, the mind is generally in a state that does not allow us to see or accept reality as it is. Our negative emotions and thoughts get stored in the body and generate energy blockages. So we start by working on our bodies to release these blockages, and in doing so learn to accept where we are at any given moment in time.

Breathing techniques (Pranayama)
The breath and the mind are not separate or independent of each other. Just as our emotions change the way we breathe, so too can breathing in a specific manner bring on emotions.
We can use this fact to our advantage: we can breath in a way that tells the body and mind to relax.

Relaxation (Savasana)
Savasana, also called corpse pose, is a pretty important and difficult posture. It requires a complete and total stillness and surrender of the body. During class, you will have stretched, contracted, twisted and inverted your body. Savasana allows the body a chance to regroup and reset itself before it is once again forced to deal with all the usual stresses of life. Savasana should not be skipped; rather you should stay in the pose for 5-15 min to fully experience its benefits. A
guided relaxation (yoga nidra) helps you stay mentally focused while the body relaxes.

Tatjana's personal journey
Tatjana's strong interest in teaching yoga to people suffering from mental illness comes from her own experience struggling with depression and the benefits she found in practicing yoga. While she initially underestimated the importance of pranayama, or breathing techniques, she learned by reading Amy Weintraub's book: Yoga for Depression that these have a powerful influence on our moods. This in turn led her to host and participate in two Art of Living courses where the Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY, also called The Healing Breath Technique) was taught. Since then, she incorporates breathing exercises into her classes and daily life.

Since 2010, Tatjana has been working with the Mental Illness Fellowship North Queensland, Inc. teaching yoga classes with emphasis on breathing and relaxation predominantly to clients of Ozcare's Residential Drug and Alcohol Treatment Service. In addition, she has conducted classes for residents of Masonic Care Townsville, for Alzheimer Australia and for women at the Townsville Correctional Centre. To continue to deepen her knowledge in the area of mental health, she has recently completed the Yoga 12 Step Recovery Intensive.
If there is time (or energy!) for just one posture, practice Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, or Bridge Pose (depicted on the right). This pose stimulates the adrenal glands, opens the chest, and creates the chinlock of Jalandara Bandha, which stimulates the vagus nerve, calming the sympathetic nervous system. In Bridge Pose, the brain becomes quiet, but the chest is open, which is a powerful combination for people trapped in the movements of the mind. Hold the pose for 30 - 60 sec and then with an exhale and slowly come out of it.
Other resources:
For a short article that introduces breath awareness, a cooling breath and a long exhale, click on the pdf below.
Healing Breath YJ nov-dec2012.pdf Healing Breath YJ nov-dec2012.pdf
Size : 2033.395 Kb
Type : pdf

And here a link to a breathing exercise, Breath of Joy, (explanation & video) recommended by Amy Weintraub.

Recommended reading:
More about Amy Weintraub

More about Forrest Yoga