Yoga influenced a lot of the poetry in the last section of my book, A Time for Winter, including the “Vulnerable,” a poem in which I detail the struggle between wanting to unfold and fold in.
Over the past two years, yoga has taught me focus, stillness, and how powerful the breath is. In the past year, during deep waves of depression and social anxiety, yoga has helped me get out of the house as I graduated from at-home practice to public classes.
It was in public classes that I really felt the vulnerability that comes with yoga—the vulnerability of closing my eyes in front of strangers, of breathing loud ocean waves in front of strangers, of lying flat on my back and kicking my feet up to the sky in front of strangers, of rising out of forward fold and shouting “Lumos!” in front of strangers (hello, Hogwarts Yoga!).
Most importantly, yoga has been the self care I never knew my anxiety and depression needed. It’s not a cure, but it is a reminder to slow down, breathe deep, and check in with my body and my emotions––vital components of coping with anxiety and depression that I have taken with me off the mat.
While I’m still working on taking vulnerability off the mat, yoga continues to give me the hope that I can sit with and get through the things that make me uncomfortable. That I can grow and find comfort, or at least strength and confidence, in things that once brought me discomfort.
Publishing my poetry book and sharing my struggle with depression and anxiety with family and friends rather than with anonymous followers feels like a pretty good start. While it’s easy to talk about my mental health history with strangers, it’s always been hard for me to talk about things as deep as mental health with those closer to me, especially my family. Talking to close friends about mental health has gotten easier thanks to therapy and the crumbling stigma that once surrounded mental health like a prison wall. Unfortunately, my vulnerability and communication issues stem from a lack of both in my family. The wall between my family and I may be a bit harder to crack, if possible at all.
Talking to close friends about mental health has gotten easier thanks to therapy and the crumbling stigma that once surrounded mental health like a prison wall. Unfortunately, my vulnerability and communication issues stem from a lack of both in my family. The wall between my family and I may be a bit harder to crack, if possible at all.
However, just sharing my book with family and friends feels like an immense weight off my shoulders. I feel a little taller, a little wiser, and a little more vulnerable.
As I lie on my back, vertebrae stackedfrom A Time for Winter by Kait Quinn
up against the earth, the soles of my feet
uproot from the dirt
to meet in an Earth-stained kiss.
I drop my knees
out to the sides,
hips wide as in birth, as in tides churning
under moons, as in flowers
in bloom, unfolding
under wet April suns: light-soaked,
vulnerable to pollinators & probing hands.
I am fighting the urge
not to fold up and in,
to rush through Winter,
You are not alone, she says.
But I am,
and I am.