when the yoga doesn’t work: depression, failure & the purpose of practice
Hello, kittens. You’ve probably noticed that things have been a little quiet on IAYB lately.
To be honest, I’ve been a little quiet in general lately. I’ve been going through a spell of depression which makes writing, blogging and social media-ing very hard. I’ve also been broke and under-employed, and so I’ve had to shift what little energy I have from the blog to job searching. Which doesn’t help my depressive state. It’s hard to blog or “sell myself” to prospective employers when all I want to do is curl up in the fetal position and cry.
I’m not sure which came first: the powerlessness of unemployment/no money or the constant feelings of sadness. It doesn’t matter and it’s not worth analyzing. I prefer to blame capitalism.
But the feelings are here and they’re real, and so is the heaviness in my heart, the anxiety that wakes me up in the middle of the night (so strong that I feel it in the layers of my skin).
I’m trying to work with them, acknowledge them, “become friends” with them. I’m trying to not let this get me. I get out of bed in the morning (although a little later than I should and with great difficulty). I’m pulling out all the tools I have: journaling, light visualizations, walking, asana, connecting with my community. I’m trying out new tools, like karaoke (I am an extrovert, after all, and singing heals) and my healer’s mysterious sacred basil tincture.
Some of it works, only temporarily. I do a lovely yoga nidra practice, come out of it feeling rested and whole, but then still wake up in the middle of the night. I start my day with asana and feel more energetic than usual in the morning, but break down crying in the mid-afternoon. There are some bright spots, too: a lovely interview with Illa Fabulis that reminds me I’ve accomplished a few things in my life. A spontaneous “pop-up book shop” tour of Montreal yoga studios, to hustle 21st Century Yoga and make a little cash before the holidays.
Underneath it all, however, is a vague sense that I’m failing at my practice, that I’m as broken and fucked up as I was before I committed to yoga (chronic and clinical depression was what drove me to practice in the first place), that the practice isn’t working. There’s also the vague sense that I’m not allowed to be feeling this way – there are many stories of miraculous healing from depression (and everything else) through yoga, but nobody talks about the relapses. I feel like I’m doing something wrong.
And so. What does this mean for IAYB? Things will continue to be a little quiet in the coming weeks, as I’ll go into a mini-hibernation between the solstice and New Year’s. But don’t worry, I also have some end-of-the-year shenanigans and rabblerousing in the works, and I will muster up the energy to post them. I’m rethinking IYAB’s position, voice and purpose. I will also be exploring this new theme, and trying to open a conversation about the shortcomings of practice. If you practice yoga regularly, how do you cope with depression, anxiety, capitalism, the world?
In the meantime, I’ll just keep watching this video on repeat with the rest of the Internet. Pop-up children and grown men playing kiddie instruments make me smile.