The 8th - 14th May is Mental Health Awareness Week.
The owner of Yogabomb, Lou Harrand, a wonderful yoga teacher and human being, is donating £1 to Mental Health Awareness Week for every bright and bold patterned bum which lands on a mat at Yogabomb. Inspired by this, I have decided to tackle my writing procrastination and perfectionism and write a short blog each day this week about mental health and yoga.
Thirteen months ago, I started my yoga journey in earnest. I had dipped in and out of it before - going to classes here and there but it didn't stick. In my previous life as a semi-professional footballer, my competitive nature didn't recognise stretching as being worth my while. Therefore, I thought something like yoga could not compete on a physical level and would not be fulfilling enough. Nevertheless, I stepped into Yogabomb. I could not touch my toes and did not know the difference between an upward dog and a cobra. In one of my first classes, the teacher - lovely little Emel with her wee bowl - said "If headstand is part of your practice then take one now." My competitive side of me pushed me into an attempt. This attempt led me to instantly crash over onto the floor and break the sound of serenity. Oops. I was challenged.
I tried another studio which did not tick all the boxes for me. I didn't feel comfortable the way I did at Yogabomb and nor did I feel the classes stretched me enough. I swithered and swayed about whether I could justify paying the monthly membership at Yogabomb in my student bursary. Thankfully, my other half persuaded me that it would be good for my mental health and cheaper than paying for a counsellor! I returned and at the end of a class, Lou read a moving passage about 'being enough'. It spoke to me from many different angles - addressing my perfectionism and insecurities. I had tears in my eyes and I knew I had made the right decision.
I now try to practice yoga every day. Yogabomb feels like a home to me - I am sure people would describe me as part of the furniture given my 3-class a day habit... I suspect Lou inwardly despairs as she cannot recycle the same class twice given my constant presence! Lou creates an environment which helps promote good mental health. With the stress of doing a PhD in perfectionism (I know...) and providing psychological consultancy to people, Yogabomb helps to alleviate my own anxieties. Yogabomb has taught me many different coping strategies to help me manage my stress. I breathe better, I am better at being in the moment and I am better at being calm and comfortable within myself. I am better full stop. So thank you Yogabomb and here is to Mental Health Awareness Week.
Tracy Donachie, MSc in Performance Psychology.