Contribution Pieces · Lifestyle · My Mental Illness · YOGA/MEDITATION

Guest Post: Yoga and My Mental Illness by Michelle Daoust


Yoga has been with me for almost as long as I can remember. My parents, true hippies of their generation, were trying to learn yoga and meditation. We practiced as a family for some time. After a few attempts, it fell away from daily practice. I, however, kept it up for some reason.

It wasn’t that I particularly loved it. I just kept finding it, finding it an interesting alternative to exercise (which was mainly weightlifting and jogging) and decided to like it.

Now, almost twenty years later, I am still practicing yoga. It is primarily a spiritual practice for me, and I feel the physical benefits are never quite enough to warrant doing it on its own. I’m not very motivated for physical activities. Yoga is the only exception. It is that perfect blend of meditation, spiritual contemplation and belief applied, and physical exertion to keep oneself grounded.

I guess that’s why I get so frustrated when my mental illness stops me from practicing.

What? But yoga is great for mental illness!

It is. It sincerely is. But when I have my derealization/confusion episodes, my coordination, and cognitive skills ditch. Then, uniquely then, yoga becomes dangerous. I lose balance. I get confused over the slightest complication in poses. A routine that I could easily flow through alone suddenly becomes overwhelmingly difficult.

But then, in a sense, by accepting defeat gracefully and moving on to rest, I like to think that I am still practicing a sort of yoga. A gentle and flexible yoga of the mind. A practice of letting go and accepting my daily limitations gracefully and not being angry at myself. Non-harming in my thoughts, flexibility in my choices.

Or, perhaps I could do relaxing poses and tell myself that alone is enough. Maybe I should do that. Just stay and rest. Accept myself. I worry that even that amount of yoga will be too much for me some days to cope with, or that it is ‘too little’ to be worth calling a yoga session. And yet- isn’t that the beauty of yoga? It is something that is adaptable to all skill levels, and almost all ailments and complications. Yoga can seemingly (from my very limited perspective) apply to almost anyone and as long as they enjoy it there will be some way for them to practice it. At least there has been for me. Yoga has remained one of my rocks through the tides of mental illness. It is grounding, calming, and really does stretch out some kinks in the body and mind.

Michelle Daoust is an amazing writer and yoga enthusist. Her blog can be found here:

She also creates adorable comics that she posts on her instagram page:

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