Tag Archive for: Depression

Axis Yoga students have the opportunity to apply Ayurvedic principles to their lives through their second Teacher Training course experiment. This student writes about her life-long experience with depression and her new hope with Ayurvedic healing.

Choosing what specific aspect of my life I wished to address with Ayurvedic therapy was not hard.  From a very young age, depression has governed my life. While my depression racked my personal, private life I was still an ambitious person. I excelled in everything I did; it didn’t matter if it was school or music or sports I was hungry for knowledge and going out and doing things well made me feel like I was alive. Doing work made me forget about how much I hated myself and for 21 years I coped with my life’s ebb and flow. Then about a year and a half ago my very dependable depression changed radically.

I noticed eventually that I didn’t care about anything, and I mean that exactly how it was written. Nothing, not family, not school mattered anymore. I hated to do anything and I could barely get out of bed without breaking out into a hysterical flood of tears. I felt desperate to get back to my “normal” self-loathing depression. I tried getting through it myself. That didn’t work. I tried acupuncture, massage, and aromatherapy. They made me feel a bit better but were too expensive to continue with. I then turned to therapy and was put on a ridiculous amount of medication. They didn’t help. After a horrifying set of hallucinations caused by the cocktail of pills I was told to take, I stopped all medications. Then I turned to yoga, which got me through some of my darkest times. I am at a point now where I can manage my depression better but some days are still extremely rough.

I feel as if I have lost my fire for life, which is ironic since I am a Pitta-Kapha person and fire is what gives Pittas their zest. I realized that a lot of my symptoms were showing up as symptoms of too much Kapha. I hypothesized that my depression could be, in part, due to an excess of Kapha and that following Ayurvedic guidelines to pacify Kapha could alleviate some of my symptoms.

I decided that I would keep to a fairly Pitta diet to keep my Pitta pacified as I went after my Kapha with lifestyle changes. I decided to force myself to be active both in my mind and my body. I listened to upbeat music and surrounded myself with invigorating people. I have had a strong dislike of being social lately and being around people was hard, but ultimately rewarding. Making kicharee with Beth, surrounded by laughing and shared stories, made me feel loved. The next day however, that sinking feeling of depression was back, strong as ever.

Getting up before 6:00 am was not very fun and made me really irritable but working out and doing more vigorous asana made me feel amazing. As a Molecular Biologist I know that a good physical stimulation can release an amazing amount of serotonin, which is what all of my old medication was doing artificially. I tried to give my mind a good workout by not reading and studying in my house and instead reading out in public, surrounded by people. I reread the Bhagavad Gita and read the Tao Te Ching, the Upanishads, and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika among other things. I forced myself to explore all the things being thrown at me. It worked but almost too well. I feel like I can’t get enough information now.

Finally I decided to do two things I really didn’t want to do: vamana dhauti. The laughter yoga was initially ridiculous. I felt really REALLY stupid being surrounded by a bunch of people with wide-open eyes pretending to laugh. About halfway through I eventually dissolved into giggles, which made it hard to do some of the breathing and postures we were supposed to be doing. I ended up enjoying it and I think I’ll keep going back. A good belly laugh brightened my whole day and made coping with sadness easier. It’s still pretty silly though.

The vamana dhauti pracice, I was sure, wasn’t going to end up being as fun as the laughter yoga. Santosh had mentioned that vamana dhauti would help get rid of some kapha and I believe him now. I was very reserved about making myself forcefully vomit because I didn’t want to give myself a tool that could be used to hurt myself. I thought a lot about it and decided that I had enough strength to try the practice. It ended up being incredible and very funny to vomit in a group of laughing women. For days after the practice I felt amazing, like I was shining. It was the most effective practice at helping with my depression of this whole experiment. It will definitely become a bi-yearly ritual.

After everything was said and done I think the few Ayurvedic therapies did improve my symptoms a bit.  Nothing worked like a miracle and kept me from feeling any sort of depression, but they helped enough that I noticed a difference. I think that Ayurveda might be the answer I’ve been looking for. I even have an upcoming appointment with Alakananda Ma to get more information and suggestions as to how to use Ayurveda to improve my mental (and physical) health.