Today is an important day on the calendar as we highlight the topic of mental health during Mental Health Day. With one in three people said to be affected at some stage in their live with a mental health condition, it is the duty of everyone to raise awareness and support those going through a difficult time. A lot of of progress with regards to raising awareness has been made in recent years, with great strides being made to ensure that people are not alone, but there is still much more work to be done. We caught up with Mandy Rees who specialises in yoga and mediation. Mandy faced a battle with postnatal depression, a form of mental strife many women will encounter and hopefully not face alone.
’When you’re pregnant there are so many changes going on that it’s difficult to keep track of what on earth is happening to you - mentally as well as physically. So a lot of my classes are that mental space.
‘We focus on yoga, but do a lot of breath work, what happened at the midwife. It’s such a worrying time.’
Mandy used to be a lawyer like her husband, but they found that they both found it difficult to balance that level of work.
‘I made the decision he can do that and I will do something else’ said Mandy.
It was following the birth of her first child that Mandy experienced postnatal depression, which left her feeling uncertain as to her new role as a mum.
‘I suffered postnatal depression when I had my first daughter Grace, which was really, really tough,’ said Mandy’. ‘What I did was I backed off from everything. So I didn’t go to classes. I didn’t meet new mums.
I pulled myself away and just went back to work. I thought I’ll go back to work and carry on. It was familiar ground. I thought ‘[Work] is what I know - I know who I am there’.
But it was just awful. It was really hard.'
Mandy had always practised yoga as a student, but it wasn’t until she saw a training opening that she saw an opportunity to help other mothers who had gone through a similar experience to her.
’One day I was just on Facebook - as we all are - and I saw something pop up about training as a yoga teacher for women with a focus on pre and post natal. And something just clicked. That was what I wanted to do. Since I’ve done it it’s just been amazing - you know when you’re really feel you’re doing the right thing that you should be doing?
‘I’ve always been called to doing something that stops a mum being in the same place that I was.
Mandy’s classes are as much about community as they are yoga, with many of her students sharing worries and concerns surrounding their pregnancy or new born babies.
’Every step along the motherhood journey is a new learning. It’s probably the most difficult job but the one we don’t get any training for.
’I remember leaving hospital with Grace thinking ‘I can’t believe they’re letting me leave hospital with this baby’. I’ve not a clue what I’m doing. I’ve no idea. But as long as you’ve got your car seat its ‘Off you go’. My classes are very much a safe space.'
’Lots of my mums are lawyers, accountants, or teachers. Lot don’t have a job outside of the home as well. But getting all those mums together, they all feed off each other. What’s great in the pregnancy class in particular with the second or third time mums, is the first time mums look at them and go ‘well… she’s ok. She looks like she knows what she’s doing’. But that’s something you have to remember - a lot of us look like we know what we’re doing, but we’re winging it completely. You can stick a bit of lippy on and look alright, but get home and it’s a completely different story."
Its important that we continue to challenge the existing stigma around such topics and talk about Mental Health. If you need somebody to talk to, or require any support, please visit https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/world-mental-health-day
Furthermore, please feel free to visit Mandy's website and discover Yoga today. www.blossomyogaandwellbeing.com