warrior not worrier
Warrior Not Worrier
Yoguh London is proud to announce the launch of our warrior not worrier campaign #warriornotworrier #wnw.
We are personally very aware and mindful of the connection between yoga, well-being and mental health. Many of the wonderful humans we have met throughout our lives have discovered yoga through experiencing anxiety or depression.
As part of our #warriornotworrier #wnw campaign we are inviting women and men to share their experiences of coping with stressful and often overwhelming times in their lives, and hopefully by sharing our experiences we show support to others by letting them know that they are not alone and that there is help out there.
In addition to this we want to help in a practical way and to that end we are pledging £10 from every #warriornotworrier #wnw sweatshirt/hoodie and £5 from the sale of every tank/t-shirt to MIND Charity.
The Founders Story
Meet Victoria Joyce and Sylvia Marks; two friends who met through their children's school who share an understanding and a love of yoga. Each have had their share of challenges to face in their lives and would like to share their personal stories as part of the launch of the #warriornotworrier campaign.
Q : How have you suffered with mental health issues during your life?
V : For some reason I had a ten year period that presented me with too many challenges: a divorce, the death of my partner from cancer, becoming a mum, losing my Father, becoming a single parent....and 4 house moves thrown in just to keep me on my toes..
Q : How has it affected your life?
V : By the time I found yoga I felt like I was drowning, struggling to keep my head above water with no sense of direction, no plan, but always with a smile plastered on my face, determined to be ‘the strong one’ - ‘just smile’ I used to think, no-one will know you feel afraid, anxious, vulnerable and without hope ….When you break your arm or hurt your back it is there for all to see; we receive sympathy, a kind word, an offer of help..so why then are we programmed to feel shame when we are broken on the inside?
Q : How have you dealt with mental health issues?
V : In the past, like so many others, I’ve been afraid to admit that everything wasn’t as it might appear from the outside. Even when I had made a deal with myself to speak out, somehow when the moment came I would default to the usual “I’m fine, I’m fine,” and smile.
I read self help books, sought out all the latest ‘alternative’ treatments and remedies for anxiety and fear, became addicted to high intensity exercise and developed food ‘issues’ to help me feel in control.
Q : How has yoga helped your journey with dealing with mental health issues?
V : After my first vinyasa yoga class (with the beautiful Sylvia, who knew it would help!!!) I literally felt like I had taken the first deep breath in as long as I could remember. The sense that I came out of the class onto the street and and that everything around me was in high definition will always stay with me - I could literally feel everything around me buzzing. I knew then that I could stop ‘holding on‘ to the world by the skin of my teeth and learn to be present in it and go along for the ride with everyone else.
Now, when my landscape becomes grey, when I am feeling like the world around me has no colour, no definition and no hope, I know that I need to get on my mat. I need the calm, the anchoring and the sense of grace it gives me knowing that I belong to a much bigger world than the one inside my head.Yoga has helped me learn to swim again instead of drowning; taught me to breathe, to believe in myself and to trust that the way I feel is real, valid and not something I should be ashamed of. I’m proud to have survived the traumas, blessed to have made (fingers crossed) lifelong changes in my thought patterns and associated behaviours, and grateful to have made new friends and be part of such a special community.
Q : What makes you feel like a warrior not a worrier?
V : Waking up each day knowing that through yoga I am able, even when the going gets really tough to be there for my son; alive, calm, centred and present in the moment with him, sharing his journey and his wonder at the world around him. Not being paralysed by the uncertainty of what lies ahead- it is often still there, but through yoga I have learnt a new way to navigate the roads I used to avoid and give me the courage I need to choose a different journey. I’m no longer afraid to say “I’m struggling”, “I need help”…
Practicing yoga has helped me in so many areas of my life not least to explore the whole topic of compassion and self love. It has introduced me to some amazing people that have enriched my life and expanded the way that I think and feel, bonded me more closely to existing relationships and of course been the inspiration behind ‘yoguh’.
Bereavement, depression, anxiety, social anxiety, addiction and stress have all played a huge part in my life, and recently overwhelmingly so.
I have always found it difficult to talk about my feelings and have never felt comfortable opening up to others emotionally, preferring to smile, distract and move on to other topics. I have a tendency to live my life in my head which sometimes amplifies the negatives. I started to hold my feelings in because I didn’t want to burden others and told myself that it would make me feel more vulnerable to open up about any difficulties I was experiencing, but this approach became so much more difficult to manage and I had to ask for help. I’ve now realised that sometimes just a kind word (given or received) or a having safe space to express my feelings can stop me feeling so helpless. Just the feeling of being supported can make such a difference.
If I had to put into simple terms why I love yoga so much I would say that when I practice yoga the quality of my life (whether that be great, challenging and / or overwhelming) gets better. Even though I often get feelings of anxiety I know that practising yoga guides me to find my way again and lets me take an important time out from whatever is going on around me to simply breathe and be. Yoga helps me find a calm, grounded space in which I can find a moment to heal, breathe and let go.
Life can be wonderful, challenging, joyous, exciting, sad, stressful, fast, exhausting (and much more often all at once) and no matter who we are we need tools to help us. Yoga has helped me to practice gratitude for the many, many wonderful gifts I have in my life allowing both them and me to shine and not be overtaken by negative events and emotions.
The whole movement to better understand mental health and support each other is so important to nurture and contribute towards. It is therefore hugely important for me to join the movement to bring mental health issues into our daily conversations so that if people want to ask for help they feel more confident to do so and when they do ask for help it is available to them.
What makes you feel like a warrior not a worrier?
That is very much a work still in progress! I must be honest, I don't often feel like a warrior but I am really grateful to be actively working towards a deeper understanding of myself. Knowing this and being aware of the support I have makes me feel more like a warrior than a worrier, and that makes me smile.
Links to some useful numbers and websites are here:
If you would like to know more about MIND charity you can visit their website here.
MIND - 0300 1233393 or text 86463
Samaritans - 116 123
CALM - 0800 58 58 58 9UK) 0808 802 5858 (London)