A Manchester journalist-turned-yoga teacher has revealed how she used yoga to help her combat mental health issues – and she hopes others will join her.
Cat Teague, a News Associates graduate, has backed the UK’s ‘Time To Talk’ campaign, which was established to raise awareness of mental health and reduce stigma around it.
Today is the fourth ‘Time To Talk’ day and in previous years, the campaign has enabled hundreds of thousands of conversations online, allowing people to be talk openly about their experience of poor mental health and get advice.
And Cat, who recently set up YOGA UP and hosts weekly yoga and meditation classes, knows only too well how important it is to talk about mental health issues.
She said: “Depression, anxiety and stress are hidden illnesses, which can be covered up to a certain extent, and in the workplace, it’s okay to talk about your physical ailments, but there is still some way to go as far as talking about the state of your mental health.
“I felt as though I couldn’t really reveal the true nature of what I was going through, out of fear of losing my job or being thought of as ‘unable’ to do it or ‘unhinged’ by others.
“I let it go on for too long, trying to cope alone, which resulted in it worsening. It can often be quite a deep, complex issue for some.
“I think more training and support should be provided for people and workplaces to be able to talk about it more transparently and more tools provided to help people cope better.”
Mind, the UK’s leading mental health charity, reported that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health issue in their lifetime.
Almost a third – 31% – have at one point experienced a mental health issue, resulting in half of that taking time off work.
And the charity says only 1 in 10 managers have actually received appropriate training to help them support their employees with mental health issues.
Cat turned to yoga and meditation, after seeking an alternative to prescriptive medication, learning how it had been used effectively to treat anxiety, stress and depression.
After a year of regular yoga, meditation and breathing practice, Cat was able to cease using prescriptive drugs and practised yoga three to four times per week.
She decided to use her experience to develop her career in the field of yoga and mental health, and went on to complete the yoga teacher training qualification in India last November, where she trained intensively from 6am to 7pm, to better understand the impact of yoga and meditation on the body and mind.
“The 5am starts were crippling to begin with if I’m honest, but gradually over time as my body and mind adjusted, I was fine with it,” she said.
Now she hosts four classes per week at Studio 25 in Manchester and is hoping to share her experiences – as well as the expertise gained in India – to help people discover ways to improve their mental health.
She said: “There are techniques we can share with each other to help us manage improve poor mental health and even prevent it. So we should get talking about this also.
“My classes aim to provide people with those tools for coping with the stresses and impact of life, giving them a welcoming and non-judgmental environment.
“It’s about honouring your body, learning breathing techniques to calm the mind and yoga poses to help release stresses and tensions. I am about prevention rather than cure.
“Taking care of your mental health is as important as physical in the long-term. It’s about ‘minding yourself’, your body and your mind.”
YOGA UP classes run weekly at Studio 25, Church Street, on Monday and Thursday at 12.30pm to 1.15pm and Tuesday and Friday at 5.30pm to 6.15pm. Sessions cost £6 each and are suitable for beginners to intermediate.
For more information follow @yogaup_uk on Twitter or email Cat on firstname.lastname@example.org