Why We Started Vikara Village
As the founder of Vikara Village, I am often asked why I decided to start this nonprofit. The answer is simple – yoga saved my life.
Growing up I had to be the best. I was striving for perfection at everything I did - straight A’s, top cookie seller, perfect daughter/girlfriend/sister/friend.
It left me anxious and depressed. I was stressed and tired. I continued to push forward until the moment it all came crashing down. I graduated from college with no job in my field, heartbroken and unsure of what was next.
I was exhausted and looking for a way to escape. I began self-medicating, going to therapy, taking meds and looking for happiness in all the wrong places.
I found my way into a free yoga class to help stretch my body. I left feeling a sense of lightness, buoyancy and clear-headedness I’d never experienced. On my mat I learned to be present, take up space and to be still.
Vikara Village exists to provide an alternative and complement to traditional mental health services. While talk therapy is helpful, it unfortunately may not work for everyone. Expressive arts like visual arts, music, dance and movement have been found to be powerful tools for social, psycho-social, physical and spiritual wellness, especially when talk therapy has proven unsuccessful.
Vikara Village uses the communal spirit of yoga and the arts to empower individuals to reach their full potential.
In 2015, an estimated 3 million adolescents had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. That’s 12.5% of the US population aged 12-17. In Montgomery County, that’s an estimated 8,659 young people. Depression and anxiety often go unnoticed and in DC, it’s estimated that 59.9% received no treatment for their Major Depressive Disorder.
When you're not in treatment, you begin to seek ways to cope with what you’re feeling - drinking, drugs, and even early sex, just to name a few. These self-destructive behaviors are dangerous and only provide temporary solutions to feeling better.
Yoga is a powerful tool. Harvard Medical School found that high school students participating in a 10-week program were better equipped to deal with life’s ups and downs. Another Harvard study found yoga improved depression and anxiety and increased overall well-being.
As we closeout this year’s Mental Health Awareness Month, we thought it was important to share why we exist. Vikara Village helps clients deal with life’s ups and downs through yoga and the arts. Vikara Village is offering a better way - we help our clients develop a healthy sense of self, community and belonging.
I know this because I’ve experienced it first-hand. This healthy alternative saved my life – through Vikara Village, we hope to save others too.