by Guest Blogger Rochelle Carrier
On Saturday June 21st around 8:30AM, EYC participated in Climb Out of the Darkness for the first time. This national non-profit event, started by Postpartum Progress in 2013, is currently the largest effort to raise awareness of perinatal mood disorders. In only one year, the event has grown from 177 participants to well over 1,000 climbers. In addition to that, the amount of money raised this year nationally more than tripled the amount from 2013.
Long-time yoga student Kathy Williams came out with her daughter and grand-daughter to support the cause (pictured right)!
Upon discovering this movement last fall, Beth Hayes knew right away that Memphis needs to be a part of it. As a Postpartum Doula, she knows better than most how easily women can fall prey to perinatal mood disorders. 1 in 7 mothers experience mood disorders after the stress and hormones of having a baby. Of those women, only about 15% seek treatment for pregnancy-related mental illnesses, such as postpartum depression. As a result, “suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the first year postpartum” according to Postpartum Progress.
The gravity of these statistics and Beth’s personal dedication to the cause are how Team Memphis was able to raise over $3600 and get almost 100 people out for the climb on Saturday morning, making us one of the largest climbs in the country. The weather was beautiful and families showed up in droves to unite the community and support a great cause.
Throughout the morning, photographer Erica Jancelewicz grabbed photos of all the adorable moments that inevitably happen when kids are having fun. She also carried the COTD “I’m back” sign, which offers women a chance to capture their bravery at surviving their own postpartum battles. The photos are sent to Postpartum Progress and archived as part of the event. There is no better way to support people who are suffering than saying “you are not alone, I went through this too.”
Organizer Beth Hayes was thrilled with the turnout and emphatically reassured everyone that she would be back again next summer (June 20th, 2015) with the same zealous devotion to this cause. Team Memphis was one of the top 10 contributors to the $150K raised worldwide for Postpartum Progress.
I was so proud to be there as a representative of Evergreen Yoga Center and offer my encouragement to everyone that showed up for this great cause. Go Memphis!
Yoga is useful for all women…not just the super-bendy or the super trendy. And, if you think yoga is just a physical thing, think again.
From puberty to menopause, throughout monthly ups and monthly downs, yoga is a powerful tool. It helps us blend our awareness of our body with our emotions and thoughts and it can uplift and strengthen a woman through all phases of her life.
When I set out to interview women who practice Iyengar yoga for this article, I thought I would hear the usual reasons for their dedication to yoga. I expected to hear about stress relief, the importance of making time for yourself, and relaxation.
But what I found from the two women featured here was much different than what I expected. You might be surprised to hear what makes them show up for yoga.
Simone Wilson, 35, has been practicing yoga for 10 years and doesn’t think she could live without it. She first started practicing while working on her graduate thesis to relieve stress.
Wilson who has worked in a fitness center and taught spinning, especially likes the way that Iyengar yoga encourages a specific kind of practice during the monthly menstrual cycle. “During my cycle. I used to do what I usually did and pretend that nothing different is happening”, she says. “I think that’s how women go through life. I used to have the attitude that unless I really couldn’t move, I should push on! But since I started doing yoga, strength means something completely different than it used to, which was to ignore how I really felt. In my practice, I learned to support my own body weight. That’s mental strength as well”.
Post-thesis, she continued practicing yoga, taking classes throughout both of her pregnancies. She noticed that even while pregnant, she continued to grow stronger in the poses. “I was more aware of my body”, she says. “ I was able to do headstand, and had the strength to stay up even longer than I could before”.
Becca Franklin, 26, emphasized how yoga can help young women become more comfortable with their bodies. She cites the pressure on young women in our society to be shaped a certain way and to look a certain way. “Yoga helped me not to look at my body as an object – but to have a more internal experience of myself. My experience of my body has now expanded to include what I can do and what my body is capable of,” she says.
“During our twenties, we are looking to find our place in the world – to find a job, make friends and perhaps, find a partner,” she says. “Yoga is something that can take you from feelings of anxiety and uncertainty to helping you understand who you are and what your values are.”
Both Wilson and Franklin agree that the benefits of practicing yoga has helped them better deal with their emotions.
Wilson explains she is very good at multi-tasking. But yoga has helped her let go of the idea of having to do fifteen things at the same time. Now she concentrates on five! One of the major benefits of doing yoga she says is that it helps her connect with her husband at the end of the day. “ In everyday life situations, I now will often reflect on something before I just react.”
This attention to how our physical and emotional lives are inextricably linked is another reason why yoga is a boon for women. Iyengar yoga expert, Bobby Clennell, author of The Woman’s Yoga Book: Asana and Pranayama for All Phases of The Menstrual Cycle teaches women to watch how their hormonal rhythms play out in the body and the emotions.
Franklin says yoga has helped her take responsibility for her emotions and where they lead. “ I would get all caught up in my emotions,” she says. “Yoga helped me with this. There is a different level of awareness when, say, I am in the middle of a discussion with a friend or family member. I notice now that I have a couple of seconds to check in with what I’m feeling and think before I speak. I think, okay….this is something I have control over. I now have a few seconds to choose. I can make a decision to have an emotional outburst, or I can choose to respond another way. Now, because of my yoga practice, I have control of how my emotions affect what I do, and I have power over this. For me, that was huge.”