Ken was diagnosed with bipolar disorder eight years ago. Bipolar disorder is a mental illness characterized by shifts in mood from periods of extremely high energy levels to strong depressive episodes. Additionally, Ken suffered from anxiety disorder. Anxiety symptoms included the constant presence of worry and mental disquiet. Acceptance of these conditions was one of the greatest tests of Ken’s life.
Ken’s days had been fraught with difficulty. At one point he took it upon himself to skip his medications, completely against the treatment plan of his psychiatrist. The result was that Ken suffered from a devastating psychotic break. Weight gain turned out to be a major side effect of his disorder: at one point he weighed 313 pounds.
Ken’s wise summary of this period: “denial happens!”
One year ago, Ken decided to try yoga. Ken is wholly drawn to the Yoga Tune Up® body, mind, and breath therapeutic and consciousness raising self care practices. Through the experience of deep relaxation and conscious sedation that I introduce in class, Ken created mental positive intentions, known as sankalpas, to inform and guide himself to healthy mental states and self acceptance.
With the support of his psychiatrist, Ken has learned to manage his bipolar disorder, and he is clear that he must continue the bipolar medication regimen to stay stable. At the same time using the self-care tool of yogic complete breath in everyday life, he manages his anxiety disorder. Ken has actually stopped a potentially devastating public anxiety attack!
Last month, Ken shared the wonderful news that his psychiatrist has given him permission to completely cease his anxiety medication. All of us face stress from everyday living. As Ken has demonstrated, these challenges can be managed with tools such as the audio CD Breathe In Bliss Out.
Mental Illness affects so much of the population in one way or another. Self-care strategies are vital for wellness of the body, mind and spirit. I would love to get an update on his progression to see if his practice has carried him further in introspection. Regardless of whether he is taking medication or not, there is little denying that down-regulation breathing strategies activate the parasympathetic system inducing a feeling of relaxation and peace. Cheers to Ken for his hard work and personal determination to keep a clear mind.
Amazing story, but also in a way not surprising. The potential for life transformation through self care tools like YTU is probably limitless.
Having permission from a psychiatrist to cease medication with such a dis-ease is an absolutely amazing and encouraging testament of what true dedication to this practice can achieve. Congratulations to you for finding what you needed to achieve your peace and experience this life free of medication!
It’s so inspiring to hear transformational stories such as Ken’s. It’s empowering to know that there are tools that Ken has available to him to “self soothe” and to not just rely solely on medication.
What an inspiring story – thank you for sharing it. There are so many people in society today that are afflicted by a mental health issue and despite this day and age, it is not very accepted. It is so heart warming to hear that we can make a difference is peoples’ lives in so many different ways!
Thank you for sharing Ken’s story and discussing the different aspects of self care for both mind and body as it relates to anxiety and depression.
Love hearing about the success in your story. I am intrigued by many forms of wellness, but in complete awe and belief of mental wellness. The more it reminds me of how extremely powerful one’s mind, body and breathe trully is. Thanks for sharing!
I love to hear about these success stories with the help of Yoga Tune Up Balls. I know how powerful the creation of a Sankalpa can profoundly influence your life. Reciting your sankalpa everyday can be definite game changer
What an inspiring story! Too many people suffer from anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses at various points in their lives, and often times feel helpless. With conscious exploration of your physical body through asana, rolling, etc. under the guidance and safety of a knowledgable teacher, a person can change their physical, physiological, and mental patterns in order to restore health and balance in their lives. I feel so inspired to be learning a modality that offers a healing pathway for those in need– whether their ill health manifests itself as physical discomfort or emotional distress.
Bonnie, I love how you share real stories of your students and how they are using Yoga Tune Up as an important piece of their mental wellness. I often times find stories of people using yoga and now they are drug free and living a glorious life, and it’s refreshing to read about people who still need and use their medicine but find incredible benefit from yoga. It’s not an all or nothing proposition and yoga is not always a cure all or silver bullet, but for so many people is one of many tools they use in their mental health. Thank you!
Amazing story of how yoga tune up has been used as a tool to promote healing in the mind and body. Thank you!
Awesome to hear another story of positive impact, and not even on physical health! Its great to know YTU can help soothe the bodymind from body perspectives.
Way to go Ken! Breathing is such an important part of my day. Sometimes meditation can be too much to handle so I’ll go for meditation walks to calm my nerves when I am feeling stressed.
Great story & always inspiring how the benefits of the Yoga practice could change our wellbeing. I’m glad to help myself and other people to deal with difficult situations as a Yoga teacher.
So happy for Ken! I also suffered with anxiety and I understand how frightening it can be. I firmly believe that yoga can offer significant help to anxiety sufferers. Yoga and proper breathing have allowed me to control my anxiety and I have not had a panic attack in 15 years. Whenever I meet someone who is suffering from anxiety, I suggest they take up yoga and I also give them a quick lesson on controlling bodily sensations using the breath.
I think too often people forget the mind and body connection and illness, and although I realize that mental illness is real disease just as much as diabetes and heart disease. I agree yoga can be an amazing tool that can help you get in touch with those blind spots. Whether it be calming a hypoglycemic episode or getting in touch with the overwhelming thoughts playing in your head. I really commend Ken for taking the initiative in helping himself.
Having patience and pairing practices is what it’s about. It is heart warming to see how many students are gaining insight into themselves through acceptance and enlightened practice.
At my first teacher training during a module called Special Needs what we came to realize is that ALL students have special needs. Reading Ken’s story I am reminded that not all of these needs are readily seen with the eye. Self_care is such an important facet of practice not only for students but for teachers.
A wonderfully heart warming story. Inspirational as well. I also appreciate the use of a sankalpa. If we repeat a positive affirmation enough, it becomes ingrained in our soul and manifests itself into wonderful things. Love, love, love hearing stories about people overcoming their obstacles because someone else in their life cared enough! Thank you for sharing.
i love this…i have close people in my life that rely on medication and I would love for them to seek out alternate ways to help cope with anxiety, depression, etc… i love hearing how Yoga (Yoga Tune Up) can help change lives.
What an inspirational article and to see the result of the power of having a sankalpa. Kudos!
Wow, Ken is so lucky to have you as a teacher! I love the idea that deep relaxation, conscious sedation,yogic complete breath, and sankalpas were tools that helped Ken with his therapy to eventually cease his anxiety medication!
I am attending Jill Millers Yoga Tune Up workshop and everyday i walk away with something different i.e. feeling, thoughts. I have a stepdaughter with lots of demons she has put in front of herself and wish she could be on this journey with me. We must all be soooooo!!!!!! thankful when we stumble sometimes upon such positive influences and embrace all.
Kenya, That’s wonderful!
I find that yoga is a great addition to my routine and it has helped me to be more patient as well as I tend to not get as angry like I used to. Just doing breath work has increased my awareness of what triggers me and how to calm that down. I have brought this work to some of the highschool students that I work with and they have found it to be very relaxing.
oaw, Ken is well aware that he MUST continue his bipolar medication regimen (please see second to last paragraph of the blog). However, he is managing his anxiety through the yoga practices linked to on this site, and as of now has no need for the anxiety medication.
Just to clarify– has he completely ceased all medication (meaning whatever medication is used to treat his bipolar disorder) or specifically the anxiety medication– which still is a HUGE, IMPRESSIVE, VERY VERY VERY NOTEWORTHY accomplishment!!! Thank you for sharing this important story & thank you for clarifying. 🙂
Thank you all for your supportive and kind words. It truly is a deep privilege to share these wonderful YTU and life lessons with Ken, and all of my students.
He is one lucky man to have you in his life. Thank you for sharing this and emphasizing for me, as another YTU teacher, just how powerful this work is.
My heart will sleep peacefully tonight after reading Ken’s story. You are a marvelous and compassionate teacher Bonnie. I am so glad he found his way to you. Thanks for sharing.
It’s so amazing that yoga has many benefits. Depression and anxiety run in my family, additionally I have a cousin that suffers from bipolar disorder. I know that yoga helps her to stay in her good place along with meds and regular therapist sessions. Although I haven’t seen medical journal studies, I know from my regular practice just what yoga can do to calm the mind and reset the clock.
I am so interested in the effects of yoga on mental health. More specifically on anxiety and depression. Both run in my family and my husband’s family. I will have to check out the Breath in Bliss Out CD! Thank you for the inspiring story,