Crown of beauty

a crown of beauty for ashes

the oil of joy for mourning

a garment of praise in place of a spirit of despair

Isaiah 61:3

This week, I attended Kundalini Yoga for the first time at the Nurture Shed in Somerset.  During savasana music, our teacher applied scented oil to our foreheads.  It reminded me of the practise of ‘anointing with oil’ found in other religious traditions including Christianity.  It was a very beautiful, tender experience.

In Hinduism, the forehead is an important site of the Ajna chakra – the third eye.  Coming from a Christian background but now finding myself more and more open to all expressions of spirituality, I find myself re-connecting to the spirit, the prophetic.

For a few years after my psychosis, it felt troubling to visit the idea of prophecy.  I had felt so spiritual, so connected to Heaven, so sure of my prophetic gift and the beautiful wedding feast where all my friends would be healed and full of joy.

flower crown

During savasana, I felt reminded of the verse above from Isaiah which I have clung to in the intense despair of depression.  The times when I have felt that my life has crumbled to a heap of ashes.  Days when I have woken up devastated that I did not die in the night.

I get a sense of my crown of beauty as I walk through recovery.  In acceptance of my diagnosis.  In my time alongside others in despair.  In raising courageous daughters.

Back in 1999, my wedding headdress looked something like the Odette flower crown pictured above from Gypsy Rose Vintage on Etsy.  Next year, I’ll be celebrating our twentieth anniversary with a crown of beauty from ashes.  I might even rock a boho floral crown & leather jacket!  I’m so grateful for my amazing husband, faithful through every sickness and health.





Hot yoga

60 minutes, 35 degree heat, 26 Hatha yoga poses.  An incredible way to spend an hour.

Students Practice The Unique Bikram Yoga

Yes, I did sweat and I felt proud (I love the strapline ‘damn right I look hot’ from the This Girl Can campaign).  This was an intense class with the determination, focus and relationship between you and your body only heightened by the heat.  I surprised myself with both mental and physical suppleness and strength.  The practice was a timely reminder that taking time out for me to be just with myself, deeply focused is a really good thing for my mental health.

My body image during the class also surprised me.  I could see I was curvier and indeed jigglier than most of the more accomplished yogis in the studio, however it didn’t feel like it mattered.  I felt beautiful and I felt strong, particularly through the skill and encouragement of the teacher leading the class.  Despite the huge alterations that mood stabilising medication has caused to my body shape, I could appreciate a defined waist, leg muscles beginning to strengthen from my running. Deeper than that though, a growing confidence that I can try new things, hard things and succeed.

I was massively disappointed to find that there are no hot yoga classes closer than an hour and a half’s drive from home but I’m already planning how to build some Hatha yoga, on which Bikram (hot yoga) is based, into my weekly routine.  UK friends – if you are ever anywhere near Truro go and try a class at Breathe.