Defeat Depression Walk to get a yoga boost

The Defeat Depression Walk returns for its second year to Campbell River this weekend

On these recent beautiful, balmy sunny days, it is hard to imagine that some people could be feeling incredibly sad. So sad that they withdraw and isolate themselves and feel too ashamed to talk about their feelings to others.

This is depression.

Depression will affect one in eight Canadians and is one of the leading causes of disability in Canada. It is also a factor in a large percentage of the more than 4,000 suicides in Canada every year.

Barbara Swanston, a suicide awareness advocate, says society needs to talk about depression, openly, to eradicate the stigma it carries.

“We need to open people’s hearts so they can open their minds,” Swanston says. “To make the UNspeakable speak-able.”

Stephen Fry, an outspoken advocate for raising awareness about depression says, “If you know someone who’s depressed please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’t a straight-forward response to a bad situation; depression just is – like the weather.”

On Sunday, May 25 Defeat Depression events will be held in more than 40 locations across Canada including Campbell River.  The 2.5 km walk begins at Robert Ostler Park. Registration opens at 9:30 a.m., and at a 10:15 a.m. there will be a free, 30 minute yoga warm up led by Ocean Mountain Yoga to stretch out both body and mind before beginning the walk. After the walk, there will be a salmon barbecue for $5.

Depression is a mental illness and treatment often requires a multi-disciplinary approach. Yoga practices can help reduce the impact of exaggerated stress responses and may be helpful for both anxiety and depression. In this respect, yoga functions like other self-soothing techniques, such as meditation, relaxation, exercise, or even socializing with friends.

The simple habit of walking outdoors, especially with a friend that you can chat to and a regular yoga practice are two excellent tools towards having more resilient mental health. Breathing deeply, focussing on one step at a time are what these two activities have in common.

Dr. Timothy McCall says in his techniques to teaching Yoga for Depression that “…our students’ journey out of depression begins with a single step from wherever they are right now.”

The 30 minute yoga warm up on May 25 will not require you to stand on your head or do a backbend, unless you feel so inclined. It will be a series of easy to follow movements and yoga poses to facilitate good breathing and “ready to walk” limbs. You will not require a mat and you can do the warm up in your runners. Those who register for the walk online at “Campbell River Defeat Depression” will be eligible for some amazing prizes.

“My deepest hope is that I can help to eliminate the stigma around mental illness so no one will feel so ashamed, worthless, or hopeless that they complete suicide rather than seeking help,” Swanston says.