Sleeping in Savasana

My yoga journey

Yoga and Depression

It’s official that yoga helps depression. A relatively small study by Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that 90 minutes of yoga class each week with four 30 minute at home sessions each week made significant improvements to the participants depression score.

They’ve recommended just two led sessions a week rather than four at home and one led as it was a large demand on the participants time. I get this, committing to practising five days a week is huge for most people never mind those with mental health issues.

There is more detail about the study in this Time article.

I’ve never been clinically depressed but I’ve had a few seriously low periods in my life and yoga has certainly helped me through them. I know that I feel better mentally as well as physically when I’ve been doing yoga regularly. This is part of the reason that I’m making an effort to ensure that I keep up my practice as well as teaching to ensure that I’m mentally and physically in a good place.

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Addiction Yoga Classes

A local(ish) café that works with people with addiction issues are starting to run free yoga classes to help those in recovery. One of the local papers posted an article here.

The organisation that is co-ordinating the classes is one that I’ve written about before Edinburgh Community Yoga. They have a great programme of engaging at risk users with yoga and they work with those with addition issues as well as long term health issues. They still don’t have their donation page sorted but when they do I’m planning on making a monthly donation.

They also are holding a Vinyasa flow class on the 25th October to raise funds that I’m hoping to go along to.

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Cult of Yoga part II

I’m enjoying reading about yoga cults and thought I’d give a quick update on some things that I’ve found.

Firstly I wanted to read more and think about what a cult is.

The Oxford English Dictionary definition is;

cult

Pronunciation: /kʌlt/

Definition of cult in English:

noun

1A system of religious veneration and devotion directed towards a particular figure or object: the cult of St Olaf

1.1A relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or as imposing excessive control over members: a network of Satan-worshipping cults

SYNONYMS

1.2A misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular thing: the cult of the pursuit of money as an end in itself

SYNONYMS

2A person or thing that is popular or fashionable among a particular group or section of society: the series has become a bit of a cult in the UK

[AS MODIFIER]: a cult film

I like that the definition also has misplaced admiration as part of it. Wikipedia have a good article about the history of cults and the different definitions.

Next I thought about yoga and how the definition of cult could fit into yoga in general, without looking into any actual religious bodies or ‘proper cults’ that may use yoga as a means to recruit members.

Think about Ashtanga yoga and the practice of Mysore. Below are the some of the rituals of Mysore practice;

  • You shall practice the same sequence of movements five days a week first thing in the morning.
  • You shall take part in a lead practice every Friday with the rest of your community.
  • You shall not practice on Saturday’s or moon days. This is ‘forbidden’.
  • You shall chant the same words before and after each practice.
  • You shall not eat after 6pm to be a ‘good’ yogi.
  • You shall continue to practice even if ill or injured -not all studios but I’m aware of at least one that says to keep coming to class if injured.

We’ve got chanting in a language that most participants won’t understand, sleep deprivation, social exclusions (can’t eat out or stay out late if you can’t eat past 6pm and need to be up at 5.30am to practice), rituals that don’t make sense to outsiders.

If you look at it in those terms, a Mysore practitioner could be considered to be a member of a cult. Plus I’ve met some Mysore practitioners who think that they are ‘better’ than other yoga practitioners and look down on any other style of yoga.  I don’t think it’s a dangerous ‘cult’ to be part of but it’s something that those with addictive personality types need to be aware of.  Another thing to be aware of is those who have eating disorders, I can see that practicing this type of strict yoga routine and intensity could be dangerous for many who have an existing problem.

Next I’m going to look at how ‘proper’ cults use yoga to recruit.

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Edinburgh Community Yoga

I’m incredibly lucky to live in the beautiful city of Edinburgh. There is a very active yoga community and such a great range of classes and workshops in pretty much any style of yoga that you can imagine.

One project that I only recently became aware of is Edinburgh Community Yoga as well as offering ‘normal’ classes which will no doubt be full of Middle class 25-45 year old women, they offer a range of classes for less usual users. This includes recovering addicts, homeless people, people with long term health issues and other vulnerable groups.

Last week they posted a video about there work with can be watched Here. It’s a really nice film and makes me feel proud of the work that’s being done in Edinburgh to make yoga more inclusive.

It’s a studio that I’m looking forward to trying a class at soon.

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