Strike a Chord: Yogis Breathe to Manage Mental Illness
Cecilia Alcocer found a shady patch of grass in Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn, on a beautiful, lazy afternoon. She was there with a purpose.
“Find something that I can see like a tree or the grass, something I can be watching,” Alcocer said. ‘And then just start trying to slow down my breathing.”
Alcocer has bipolar, and stays on top of her illness the way a diabetic monitors his blood-sugar levels, and yoga and breathing is one way she tunes in to what her body needs. She attends Yoga for Mental Wellness at a place called the Breathing Project. Grounding her body and mind in the present moment is a welcome relief from what she calls the avalanche of anxious thoughts she sometimes struggles with.
When she was originally diagnosed manic depressive, before it was called bipolar, she viewed her illness as simply a chemical imbalance, and trusted that medication alone would solve everything. When it didn’t, she developed a more holistic approach.
“Medication for me is like my 10 percent of my wellness,” Alcocer said, adding that the rest is sleep, exercise, friends, nutrition, and of course, yoga.