"For 22 of my (almost) 29 years I have had mental illness. #yogasavedmylife "

"Age 7 I developed anxiety & emetophobia (phobia of feeling/being sick & being around vomit/anyone who is ill). In the years that followed, I was taken to doctors, psychologists & paediatricians. They all came to the same conclusion: I was attention seeking: There was nothing wrong with me they said. So I was left to suffer. But I was a little girl who wasn’t well. Looking back, my heart breaks for her

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Age 13 I had a full mental breakdown in school. That was when I first self-harmed to try to cause physical pain as a distraction from my mind & from the physical feelings of what was finally labelled anxiety. In addition I became agoraphobic (fear of being in a situation that is physically or socially awkward to escape) & suicidal depression & had two further breakdowns at 19 and 25

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I’ve tried all sorts of treatments: CBT, exposure, counselling, hypnotherapy, specialised programmes, medication. I found counselling & medication most helpful. I processed & talked out a lot of my experiences, feelings & thoughts on my blog, which is now a published book. Photography is a hobby I can take everywhere & proves a good distraction from my instinctive agoraphobic tendencies

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I came to yoga six years ago, age 22/23. I wanted to try to improve my body & mind through exercise. But most forms of exercise weren’t accessible or sustainable: I needed something easy on the joints – I was diagnosed with arthritis, lupus & fibromyalgia – & that I could do at home. I had a try at yoga on the Wii Fit. I enjoyed it & bought a couple of yoga DVDs, then started feeling confident enough to begin building my own practice. I joined Instagram in 2015 & my practice has continued to blossom since

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Yoga is beneficial in mental disorders: it trains the mind as much as it does the body. It brings you into the present, you have to train your focus on what your body is feeding back to you or you’ll lose the pose!

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Recognising that connection was key. If I could quiet my mind for yoga, it stood to reason, I can now quieten my mind off the mat as well 🙏"