Being out in nature is an integral part of my happy, healthy life I have created for myself; this is not a statement I make lightly. I have spent plenty of days, even months hidden away in my home not to see the light of day past my window in weeks, even simply going to get the mail was not a task I once could face. What is odd though is that the happiest moments (other then the birth of my daughter) took place in the open nature; that cottage trip and walks through Algonquin park that I wrote of, my daughter first learning to walk while in the grass in a field, going on a day trip to Port Stanley or Grand Ben with my friends, all the greatest memories take place outside.
What I have learned is that for me, getting into nature makes all the difference in my mood. I’ve had a tough last week with appointments, lack of sleep, stressful messages and a daughter that has a tooth cutting through so when my mother took my daughter out for a quick ride to the grocery store I took the chance to just simply sit on my front stoop and read outside. I felt refreshed, even had a surge of creativity and took quite a few photos around my house. I’ve learned over the years that it can be hard to get outside when I’m struggling and simply stepping outside on a beautiful day (or even rainy day) can change my mood entirely.
My mother offered to drive us to a nature trail and park this past weekend and I jumped at the chance. Lily fell asleep on the car ride over and we pulled out our walking stroller and went on our way, she actually had quite a long nap while we were on the trail. I was so inspired by all the natural beauty, flowers, weeping willow tree’s, and river. I spent most of the time of the walk taking photo after photo. I was mesmerized by the sound of the water rapids and the way the flowers danced in the wind. But most of all I was moved in a way that I can not explain when I came across a tree with flowers surrounding it that was hidden behind the trees. I made my way around tree after tree after seeing the flowers from the walkway and came into a clearing with this tree, I stood there awestruck for a moment. This tree was the most gorgeous thing I have ever laid eyes on in nature. During our two hour walk we came across natural rhubarb, with all of the culinary studying I have been up to the past few months I was able to notice the leaves after I stopped to take a photograph; my mother loves rhubarb and eats it raw with a sprinkle of sugar so I got on my hands in knees and pulled out a couple of stalks. Have you ever picked natural produce? it is the most exhilarating feeling, taking your food straight from the earth.
We spent well over two hours on the trail, half way through our walk Lily woke up and enjoyed the flowers I picked for her, and said hello to every dog that passed by. Near the end we let Lily out of her stroller to play around and then ended with a trip to the nearby playground.
I hope everyone of you take advantage of the beautiful weather ahead, may that simply be switching your run from the treadmill to the streets, sitting outside while enjoying a book or going out and taking your own nature photographs, unplug your phones, and plug into nature.
Yoga has been a part of my happiness journey since I first began when I was fourteen years old and in my first intensive treatment program. I was lucky enough to be in a program that brought a yoga instructor to the hospital and we would meet up with her at the hospitals chapel, she would teach an hour long class during the time that we would normally have group therapy on the other days of the week. I had difficulty leaving my room back then let alone my house; I would kick and scream even faint sometimes from the anxiety during the beginning of the treatment program, although on the days we had a yoga class it was easier for me to handle the anxiety and accept leaving my home. Eventually the condifence and self esteem I gained during yoga class gave me a starting point towards my recovery for my extreme anxiety and depression.
The confidence came from learning and the gratitude for my body as I realized the natural flexibility my body has had for years. I had always been told I have incredible flexibility but I never believed the praise until I began yoga.Confidence that came from the sense of pride I had whenever the instructor would ask me to help students with a position while she was helping another, almost using me as an assistant. It came from knowing the position sequences (as an example sun salutation) by heart and being able to practice the positions without guidance. Those yoga classes also gave me a positive identity, I was not known as my mental illness, I was known as “yoga girl” or even “bendy.” I would be asked by other patients during lunch breaks to help them work on a pose and even asked a few times to show off a new pose I had mastered on my own time.
I kept up my yoga practice through the years but it slowly dwindled once I found out I was pregnant. Recently though I caught the bug again; I’m not as exhausted and worn out as I was just a few months ago and know it is easier to have the motivation to practice once again. I am lucky enough to have found a yoga program early in the mornings that I am able to tape (thank you to modern television) I tend to use the time that Lily has her daily nap for cleaning and prepping dinner, but I must take some time for myself and that is when I fit in my yoga session. My reasoning for the timing is so that it allows me to relax and calm down from the hectic morning and gives me a sense of overall peace to carry through the rest of my day.
Yoga is my main fitness regime as of right now (I’m hoping to incorporate biking, Pilates and possibly Zumba) and I’m glad I’m starting with this form. Yoga is something I am happy to get off the couch and do, were I would not be glad to go out and run.Yoga works my muscles and helps me relieve anxiety and stress at the same time. I feel my arms growing strength already, my legs also. My planking abilities have also increased.
I am lucky enough that the company my counselor works for has a program that allows members (patients) to use there membership at a gym that is luckily only a ten minute drive from my home; it also has a free child care area to make it easier on mothers (and fathers) I have to wait a couple more weeks to get my approval but in the mean time I have looked at the gym information and found multiple yoga classes a week there. I can not wait to be able to add more fitness and yoga to my weekly schedule.
“The success of yoga does not lie in the ability to perform postures but in how it positively changes the way we live our life and our relationships.” – T.K.V. Desikachar