Rosie Underwood: What Mental Health Means To Me

Rosie Underwood is a teacher and specialist in Vinyasa flow with positive psychology, alongside being a holistic and integrative health coach and freelance journalist. Rosie shares her mental health awareness and journey with us:

Nowadays, the polarities between our actual lives and the lives we portray on social media can be starkly different. But when you work in the media, it’s even greater. When I was just 24, my career went from fast paced to lightning speed in what felt like a matter of weeks. It was a whirl wind of shoots, events, red carpets, a hell of a lot of fake smiling and a serious lack of sleep.

I’m not denying that life was hugely exciting and rewarding in many ways, but the things I was being constantly celebrated for were the same things that were burning me out, and I had totally bought into this pre prescribed idea of what ‘success’ meant.  I’m not saying I regret the work I did. I was, and continue to be so grateful for everything I experienced, and continue to experience. It’s great to be inspired, it’s the driving force behind success, but we all need to climb the ladder mindfully else we might fall into the trap of tripping our own feet on the way up.

If I asked myself the question ‘where does your ambition come from?’ I’m not entirely sure I could say it was coming from a good place. Perhaps a hurt place, a place that needed validating in some way, to prove to the world that I was worthy of something. I believe this to be the same for a lot of ‘successful’ people. I was grateful, but also terrified, excited but bored, confident but socially anxious, and yes, there’s room for those emotions to co-exist. We’re humans, not rocks.

One day, after fainting on a shoot at the Ritz, (classy) my sister took me to a Yoga class. We’d been to Yoga together before, but there was something different about this particular practice. I’d been told by a make-up artist that our bodies are speaking to us all the time, but they speak a very physical language. They’re telling us exactly what we need all day every day, but we have to get quiet enough to listen. I didn’t know what she meant until that day. If you don’t slow down, your body will do it for you. If you hold your breath for long enough, your body will black you out, so you start breathing again, it’ll take the wheel if you lose control in a bid to get you out of the red zone. My body was screaming at me, and this Yoga class taught me to listen. This life was driving me into fight or flight on a daily basis, it was causing chronic inflammation, poor digestion and masking pain that was sure enough starting to rear its head in a big way.

The Western world we all live in is so obsessed with achievement and attainment that if we’re not careful, it can really remove us from who we really are. My Yoga practice taught me that what I really longed for was the ability to find the joy in life’s every day thrills, to help people align with their joy and to come back home to me, to who I really was as opposed to who I thought I ‘should’ be.

I started to practice Yoga daily, I started to write about the things I believed in, the people I believed in and the movements that were helping people. I got clear on my bio-individual needs. As a journalist you’re trained to be the communicator between what’s going on in the world to the people, and I had this need to share what I’d learnt in a big way.

I travelled to places that gave back to me, I learnt to rest, I learnt to be with myself and go back to that restorative anchor of my background. I experienced grief and loss along the way, but I had a toolbox to help me when life threw me a good old plot twist as it so often does in your twenties. I trained to teach Vinyasa flow with positive psychology to help others the way the practice had not just helped me, it had saved me. I’m now a freelance writer, I teach Yoga and I’m an Integrative health coach. No one’s exempt from feeling bad, but knowing I can help just one person on my retreats or through my writing and classes is enough to make me leap out of bed each morning, quite often at a ridiculous hour.

Yoga isn’t about fancy inversions and bending your body like you’re in Cirque Du Solei. That’s another lie we’ve been sold by social media. There are eight limbs of Yoga, and only one of them is focused on the postures. Yoga is about slipping into that gap in-between stimulus and response so that we show up for ourselves and everyone around us in the best way we possibly can. The thinking mind is always looking for something to entertain itself with, in the Yoga practice, we give it the breath, we give it the moving, feeling body. That’s your vehicle to whatever you deem as success, it’s your body Yoking with the mind.

There’s room for all emotions. You can feel joy in the midst of grief, you can feel crippling fear and suffering navigating the heady heights of falling in love, you can feel anxious wrapped up in home comforts, ugly when you look beautiful and totally at home somewhere pretty unfamiliar to you. The human experience is way less about attainment, an idea we’ve been falsely sold for generations but more about how life makes you feel, as opposed to how it looks. Your mind has its own ideas about what it deems as good or bad.

TEMPLESPA REPOSE Relaxing Night Cream actually works to aid a deeper breath, something that instantly activates the parasympathetic nervous system, taking us out of fight or flight (the red zone) calming the nervous system as well as nourishing our skin with a powerhouse of natural ingredients. They’re kindly donating £6 for every REPOSE sold to Mind, the charity I rally for recognising the complexities of the human experience, and raising awareness around mental health and unashamed, inclusive conversation, better insight and support on this crazy roller coaster that is the human experience.

Rosie Underwood is a teacher and specialist in Vinyasa flow with positive psychology, as well as a holistic and Integrative health coach.

Rosie has used yoga as a way to ground herself throughout her long career as a lifestyle journalist, and credits it with keeping her calm and level-headed amidst the pressure of shoots, print deadlines and the everyday stresses life can throw at us.

Her dedication to her yoga practice has taken her to all four corners of the globe, allowing her to fully understand what it takes to make people feel the best they possibly can, no matter what their circumstances.

Rosie has trained with over 85 of the wellbeing industry’s leading experts, including Deepak Chopra, Gabriella Bernstein and Doctor Andrew Weil, and has formulated a unique, well-rounded teaching and coaching practice as a result.

Rosie now teaches yoga, coaches, gives uplifting talks internationally, and writes for a wide variety of publications.

Her ethos is simple – to make people feel as happy as they possibly can, both internally and externally. She achieves this by working with people from a bio-individual standpoint, tailoring every programme to each person’s unique needs.