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How Yoga Changed My Life: “I Was Depressed, Anxious And In Pain. Yoga Altered Everything For Me”

We spoke to instructor Katie Brown about how yoga saved her from a dark period in her life...

Photo: Huffington Post

Katie Brown is a yoga teacher based in Morzine, France. She loves the relaxed atmosphere of the Alps. You can usually find her swimming in the lake or scaling a mountain with her dog, Buddy. Check her out at Katie’s Yoga Space.

“My journey with yoga is a deep one. I didn’t find yoga, I truly feel it found me.

I was a dancer for 17 years. After giving it up when I went travelling, I always wanted to have something similar, something disciplined and controlled that I could take with me.

I tried Pilates years ago and never really found it to be what I was looking for. Friends of mine lent me a yoga DVD last winter and that was it. I began practicing every day, taking on Instagram challenges and following every YouTube video I could.

I didn’t want to leave the house, gained weight and really felt I had lost my way in life…

My body has never really been able to support itself. I’ve spent a lot of time in hospitals over the years with malaria, appendicitis, and various dislocations due to having hyper mobile shoulders, hips and knees.

I also broke my back in 2009. Since then, whenever I’ve taken on a job that requires long periods of standing or sitting, I was forced to wear a malleable corset to hold my back in position, otherwise the pain was unbearable.

I was also wearing orthotics in my shoes to stabilise my knees and hip joints.

Photo: Katie’s Yoga Space

Besides my physical problems, I also succumbed to depression and was on medication for three years to help me with the daily aspects of life.

I was taking a high dose of xanex to prevent social anxieties and panic attacks from dominating my life completely. I didn’t want to leave the house, gained weight and really felt I had lost my way in life.

But within a few months of practicing yoga, I came off all medication and noticed the weight had started to fall off.

 I didn’t find yoga, I truly feel it found me…

It inspired me to change my mental attitude by confronting personal demons and also live a healthier lifestyle. I still don’t take any medication and haven’t felt the need to.

Yoga has changed everything for me. I wish I could articulate it better! The synchronicity of breath to movement doesn’t allow my brain to wander. it reminds me to live in the moment. To just focus on what I have, not what has been and not what’s to come.

It re-taught me to appreciate life, I’m such a happy person now!

Photo: Katie’s Yoga Space

The strength I have developed physically through a daily practice has also meant no orthotics as my muscles finally support me. My joints haven’t dislocated in ages; anyone who knows me will know how incredible that is!

My elbows don’t hyper extend as badly, and I don’t need to routinely crack my knees back into socket throughout the day.

I am also able to spend weekends working in Geneva Airport, on my feet all day with no need for spinal support. My back rarely gives me any pain. I can also front crawl which is a huge feat for me, and run as well!

If I can help one person feel the benefits the way I have, then it’s all worth it…

In short, yoga has re-taught me how to manage my own mind and body, and inspired me to be a different person.

I had half my thyroid removed in September this year and was told I would need daily medication for the rest of my life. Through quite drastic diet changes and performing certain asanas daily, I have not needed any medication and my blood levels are completely normal.

I decided to go into teaching after seeing what yoga has done for me, how it has helped me gain strength, not just physically but mentally.

Photo: Katie’s Yoga Space

If I can help one person feel the benefits the way I have – from peace of mind to recovering from injury – then it’s all worth it.

The most difficult thing about yoga is starting. The first class, the first DVD, the first time you unroll your mat is the hardest step.

If you keep going, you’ll realise that one of the most amazing parts of yoga is that it is a journey. There’s no ‘top tier’ yoga qualification to reach. Everybody practicing is doing just that: ‘practicing’.

Lastly… Don’t take yoga too seriously. The practice is yours, enjoy it! Try an asana that you’ve seen on Instagram. Even if you don’t think it’s possible, fall on your face, laugh and try it again.

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