YOGA FOR DEPRESSION – 11.20.14 (The Holding Environment)

Most of our thoughts never get to see the glimmer of the sun or the depth of the moon.  They stay hidden inside us.  We all have parts of us that we believe have been, are or could be burdens on others.  Those thoughts keep our thoughts held deep within us.  Caged.  And in that cage develops frustration, anger, resentment and a list of other emotions.  Our thoughts simply need an environment that is safe enough to handle them with care.  Where is that place?

For me (and I hope you), it resides on my mat.  It is a place where I can go and release.  There are not a lot of words.  There is a lot of movement.  The connection between the brain and the body is so significant throughout our lives.  We were not cognizant enough in our infancy to understand this.  We took in the world through our physical body.  The experience of touch was so important to our development.  The experience of life from that point forward began to turn inward.  However, none of us were trained as to the importance of our mental health.  We were not cognizant enough in our youth to find this appealing.  As the years grow on us, the amount the brain has to deal with increases.  There must be an outlet.  There must be a place for the brain to release.  For me (and I hope you), it resides on my mat.

I hope that your practice continues to grow.  My 200 hour training through YogaFit allowed me to learn new asanas (poses), the philosophy of Yoga, the Yamas, Niyamas, Sutras, Mantras, Mudras and so on.  One of the deepest understandings that I took away from my training was how the present is the moment.  I am free to grasp and develop my world based on my reactions to the now.  So I decided to let my mat become a place where I can let out the bad, grotesque, dark, and disgusting.  And when I remove those things, I have made more room for light, love, compassion, and gratitude.  Let your mat be a safe place to do your physical practice and your emotional practice.  The brain and the body need one another in a beautiful symbiotic relationship.  Watch that relationship blossom through your practice.

The Holding Environment

Psychologists call this a “holding environment.”  It’s the place we feel safe enough to do emotional work.  In the context of a Yoga class, you want to be free to experience what is most authentic about yourself, without the risk of feeling judged.

A “holding environment” can take the form of a relationship with a therapist, a Yoga class, or even a community of living friends.  “No one will go to the depths of terror alone,” says Lama Palden Drolma.  “The experience of not trusting the universe arises in our families so that by having a loving presence in our sangha (community) or therapy, someone to hold the space while we’re in turmoil, we begin again to trust the world.”  How do we learn to trust when the neural patterns that establish the template for our relationships throughout our lives were formed in the limbic (feeling) brain based on the kind of care we received early in life?  “When a limbic connection (important relationship) has established a neural pattern,” say the authors of A General Theory of Love, “it takes a limbic connection to revise it.”  Reading self-help books does not alter neural pathways.  We must experience the change in our bodies and in the limbic soup where our attachments were first formed.

BOOK – “Yoga for Depression” by Amy Weintraub (BUY IT!)

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