Rescue Yoga recently had a conversation with a local mental health professional to get their input on the impact yoga has in their practice and in their life.
Please tell us a little about you and what you do.
My name is Kim and I own a Holistic/Integrative psychiatric practice called Whole Life Psychiatry located in Las Colinas/Irving. I am a board certified Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner trained through Vanderbilt University. I was trained in traditional Western medicine initially and over the last 5 years have shifted to a more holistic/integrative way of treating patients. I have never been a prescriber that just throws medications at people, however, over the last 5 years I have done a significant amount of research into holistic medicine and getting to the bottom of the mental health issues that people are having. I look at the whole person, body-mind-soul, to identify what may be causing distress or imbalance in their life.
How long have you been practicing yoga and can you share some of the benefits you have personally experienced?
I was introduced to yoga about 9 years ago. However, I didn’t become a daily practitioner until about 5 years ago. There are so many benefits I have personally experienced. I am able to handle stress so much better. I sleep better. My digestion is better. Overall, with yoga, my entire nervous system functions as it should. And the mental health benefits are incredible.
What made you get into yoga?
I have an extensive trauma history. I had tried multiple medications over the years for anxiety and depression. I had completed hundreds of hours of traditional psychotherapy. Yet, I continued to struggle with anxiety, disrupted sleep, flashbacks, and negative self talk. I realized that I was not owning my experience here. I had experienced distress (abuse) as a child and I was looking for someone outside of me (therapist) or something outside of me (medication) to fix it. I was not taking responsibility for my own role in my experience as an adult. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was functioning. And to the outside world, nobody would have known the internal struggles I was still experiencing. But I did not want to just survive and function. I wanted to thrive. Call it Divine intervention or inspiration, but I just knew that I needed yoga. So I started working with Shanon Buffington one on one. She developed a practice for me that I literally did every day for a year. This year completely changed my life. I saw such an incredible impact in my own life, that I took her teacher training–twice! I’ve never taught a yoga class, but I use the knowledge I learned in Shanon’s teacher training as some of the several tools I use with patient’s in my holistic medicine tool box now.
In your opinion, do you feel a yoga practice is beneficial for mental health? if so, In what ways?
I would dare say that yoga (and all that it entails–meditation, kriya, breath work) is the most beneficial thing you can do for your mental health. Yoga is not exercise. It is a mindset. It is a way of functioning, physically and mentally, that allows your nervous system to work in the most highly effective way. Yoga allows the mind to calm. When done appropriately, yoga rewires the nervous system in a way. It calms the over-firing of neurons. The visualizations can actually lay new neural networks that take a person to a much calmer state of being. Harvard University has done significant research into yoga/meditation/mindfulness. Their studies have all shown the same thing. Yoga calms the nervous system. It lowers blood pressure. It lowers blood sugar. It reduces depression and anxiety. It improves circulation. Yoga impacts the whole body and mind.
Do you have anything you want to add?
I’ve learned through my own journey that wellness, wholeness, is really about mind, body and soul. Each part of us impacts other parts of us. We have to take care of our bodies, our minds, and our souls in order to truly be “well”. In addition, I’ve realized that each individual person is on their own journey. You cannot make someone chose health. I struggled with this right after I finished teacher training. I had such an incredible experience with yoga in my own healing, that I assumed everyone would want to experience this. But this is not the case. Most people want to feel better. They just don’t want to put the time and effort into getting there. They don’t want to look at their past and the false beliefs that they have developed. I have now realized that my role as a medication prescriber, mental health care provider, and yoga teacher is to simply hold space for others. I have a wealth of experience from this lifetime. I have a tremendous amount of academic knowledge. I am willing to share either with anyone. However, I know that when it comes to our own journeys, my job is to keep working on me and hold space for each of my patients. Everyone will do what they need to do, in their own time.
No matter where someone is in their journey, Rescue Yoga is holding safe space for them. If you have never joined us before, we hope you will. If your a long time client, we thank you for your energy and support.
Yoga has been a huge help for many of us at Rescue Yoga in regards to our mental stability. If you have never considered yoga for that purpose, we warmly invite you to find an experienced yoga therapist to help you start the journey.