Fitness Magazine

Serendipity: Discovering Yoga for Depression

By Ninazolotow @Yoga4HealthyAge
by Yoriko Matsumoto
Serendipity: Discovering Yoga for DepressionSerendipity is a word to describe my life.
I had breakdown. Most of Japanese kids work hard. I was one of them. When I was 14 years old, I didn’t get along with a teacher in volleyball team. It was small things but gradually lapping over as a layer, and one day the teacher removed me from the team, which triggered suffering from feelings of personal defeat and self-accusation. Then acute stress became chronic stress. It was enough to break me down and I blamed myself. I was scared I had done something wrong. I lost weight, passion, health, smile, and confidence. Depression wasn’t well known in my community at that time. It was hidden from our social life and people didn’t talk. It seemed like something terribly wrong or shameful. So I was rushing to get better and that created new suffering. Because I was depressed, I went to an orphanage that my relative was taking care of. The other kids were there for many reasons. Some had no parents but others had been abused, neglected, or were delinquent. I stayed there for few weeks. I learned there was a lot more going on in the world than I had imagined. When I was 16 years old I went to the US for one year. Before that, Japanese school was only world I lived in, but in the US there are many different lives, races, family styles, cultures, language, and values. Being different or original wasn’t easy here in Japan, especially after my breakdown. I had difficulty fitting into Japanese society. But while I lived in the US, I met people who made me feel “It’s OK. ” In early 20s, I lost good friend. He suffered from depression and committed suicide. Before that I wasn’t afraid to die. But when I saw his death, I wanted to overcome my depression. Only I could save my soul. I wanted to live for something good. I had to accept myself. It took me long time to knock on the door for help, but I finally did. I took medication and went to counseling. During this period of time I started yoga. Physical exercise was simply good. Yoga, though, was not just physical but also a mental and emotional workout. I noticed how I treated my body had so much in common with how I treated myself. Meditation gave time to observe and listen to what bottom of my heart was speaking to me. At first I couldn’t sit still—my body was too weak and often got hyperpnea. With repeated yoga practice I developed observational powers and a healthy body. A healthy body creates better thoughts, and better thoughts create better actions. By listening to my inner voice without judgment, I felt a lot lighter. Before that, I didn’t even know someone inside of me was speaking to me. Now, after many years of practicing yoga, I am working as yoga teacher, raising my son, running a studio, and sharing my story with students in universities.What happened to me was serendipity. I found by luck unexpected but fortunate discoveries. I think if you continue your yoga practice you, too, will have more serendipity. Because you will develop the 3 A’s:Awareness: Yoga gives you a chance to know yourself. Your body and muscles feed your brain back a lot of information. It is so difficult to listen your heart but if its body it’s easier because you feel it.Acceptance: Asana and pranayama give you a lot of to practice observing. Acceptance in your yoga practice is monitoring yourself without controlling and judgment. Action: If you practice the first two A’s, your action will be more clear and conscious. Sometime your action comes automatically from habit but if you practice the first two A’s, your action becomes adjustments with awareness. Routine is important. That’s why I practice yoga to know myself, to adjust myself. At the same time I practice 3 A’s. I have more stories to tell about who I learned yoga from and how much the Yoga For Healthy Aging blog helped me to understand what was happening to me. But for now I decided to write my story of serendipity. I suffered from depression for so long I wish others to have yoga as a tool to support your life. Big thanks to Nina for giving me this opportunity!
By the way, I translated some of Yoga For Healthy Aging blog into Japanese. You can find it at
Serendipity: Discovering Yoga for DepressionYoriko Matsumoto is the Director of Narita Yoga/Yoga for Depression. In 2015 she was inspired by the blog yoga for healthy aging. After that she shared a lot more about what she’s been through and how yoga has helped, not only in yoga studios but also in universities and other venues. Now she runs yoga studio and teaches yoga. For more information, see her website You can find her blog at to Yoga for Healthy Aging by Email ° Follow Yoga for Healthy Aging on Facebook ° Join this site with Google Friend Connect

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