Ghost Writer Series: E2: The Power of Backbends

Written by Kendall Grace

Life before yoga was lifeless, that’s the only way I can describe it.

Resultant of recurring and long-term trauma, I have been consumed by PTSD, anxiety, Borderline Personality Disorder, bulimia and anorexia for more years than I can count, and before yoga, I had no hope. When I first began practicing 18 months ago, I had no idea it would change my life. I couldn’t fathom presence with or acceptance of the darkness that had almost taken my life on more than one occasion. But I took out a mat that day, and now I barely put it away.

I adore backbends. Anything that opens the heart has always held such power for me in my practice.

Wheel Pose.

There are times when I’m effortlessly vulnerable in sharing my struggles, but others where I hold tight to my emotions, almost unintentionally, and I become numb in order to cope. It is in those moments that the power of backbends shine. I’ve found freedom in them, an energy release like no other. I love to flow through Ustrasana/Camel Pose transitions, and Urdhva Dhanurasana/Wheel Pose is where I feel most at home.


Yoga brings awareness to every avenue of my life. It has taught me to trust that my perfectly imperfect life has played out exactly as it needed to in order to shape who I am today. That in every moment, all is exactly as it should be. And for that, I am endlessly grateful. So now, it’s my mission to pay it forward in every way I know how.

Kendall x

Kendall Grace.

Kendall Grace, of Melbourne, Australia, is a 26 year old fellow warrior in the day to day battle with mental illness.  She is such a strong, beautiful soul that has overcome many obstacles, and documents her road to recovery, as well as relapse, through powerful photos on her Instagram.  The power of her will and resilience are evident throughout her insta feed, telling an honest story about how she is coping.  Her yoga journey is awe-inspiring and so worth exploring!

Thank you Kendall, for sharing your #activitiestocope with the world!

*If you are interested in sharing your story, please contact me.



Follow A Mental Life

In Darkness there is Light: A Symbol of Hope + Growth

I may never have 10 K followers and this blog may only be read by a few, but the manner in which it has already helped me grow so much in my daily fight with depression, is something that I wouldn’t trade for anything.  I took a chance on being completely open about my struggle with this illness, something I would have never imagined I would do, especially sharing imperfections that could foster judgement from others.  But when you get to a mental space where you feel like you have nothing else to give to the world, being vulnerable and freeing your mind from isolation, felt like my public service; a calling I had to be obedient to, to know that my pain is not in vain.  This is why I created ‘A Mental Life’.  I’m realizing more and more each day, that the way we perceive life is all about our mentality.  Having a mental illness can skew that perception, leaving you feeling as though life is worthless and a place of sad existence at times, but the beauty of a mind is that it can change; those same thoughts of sad existence can also be thoughts of pure joy for the possibilities in life.

That is why I truly believe that this life we live is ‘A Mental Life’, and my mentality CAN get better.  So there is ALWAYS hope, but sometimes a depressed mentality or an anxious mentality etc., needs constant reminder of that hope, in those extremely low moments where your mentality can’t be reasoned with.  Therefore, I wanted this notion of ‘A Mental Life’ to come alive; I wanted to have a reference of hope to look at, when I am blind to everything around me that should give me hope.  Thank God for Rose, a local Nashville artist, and thank God for the world of social media connecting us.  She took my vision and turned it into a masterpiece that I hope that I, those who are in this mental war with me, and those affected by the mental war (through close family members etc.) will be able to benefit from its meaning as well.

Created by Rose V, Nashville artist

I wanted a symbol that represented not only the suffering, but those that are their supporters as well.  The color green is a representation of mental health, and the way Rose creatively incorporated the watercolor to show the inconsistent cycle of lightness and darkness in the journey with a mental illness, speaks so much to me; but overall, it shows that light always peeks through the darkness and there is hope.  The way the light and dark is encircled, shows the connection that all of humanity shares with mental health and gives hope to the chance that one day, EVERYONE will come together in support of the suffering and break the stigma, as well as embarrassment, that some may feel as they suffer in silence. The open wreath of leaves that surrounds the circle, is a depiction of growth; a journey with mental illness is all about growth, and you continue to grow as you mature in life with a mental illness.

Life may not be all good or all bad along this journey, but the fact that life is an open canvas of possibilities, there is always an opportunity for growth and change.  If this notion or this symbol can help someone fight one more day or seek help without shame, than my pain is more valuable than any diamond in this world.


* I hope to be able to share this image of hope with the world through merchandise, as we stand together in spreading mental health awareness, support each other, and hopefully give back to someone else who may be affected , through volunteer efforts with mental health organizations, or in any way you can.  Please feel free to contact me with any ideas of how you would like to see this image used for the greater good of mental health awareness.

On the road to Bakasana

I love yoga.  It makes you feel stronger than you thought you were and allows you the opportunity to discover new things about yourself.  To me, going to a yoga class is my 1 hour to 1 1/2 hour time to myself, to not just set an intention for my day, but to set an intention for my days.  The feel-good chemicals that are released in your brain, together with the sense of accomplishment you feel after completing all the poses (maybe not holding them the full time, but that’s ok; baby steps), makes you want to commit to come back for more.

It makes you feel stronger than you thought you were and allows you the opportunity to discover new things about yourself.

I knew this would happen.  About a month ago, I signed up with sanctuary yoga for a series of 10 classes, and I was going routinely at least 2-3 times a week. No, I didn’t have all the energy or motivation needed to make me want to go to class, but chasing that feeling of accomplishment and a guaranteed boost in my mood, was what made me push myself to go.  Then I went on summer vacation, back home to northern Virginia to visit my parents for two weeks; and we can all guess how this story ended.

So now I feel like I’m back at square one.  I’ve never been much of a runner or hardcore cardio girl, but sulking in this rut of lack of energy to want to do anything ( thanks depression; sarcasm), has me dreaming about getting back to doing something.  I just have to pull the trigger.  It always comes down to taking the first step, and I finally did it.  I can’t tell you how hard it was to physically open up my computer, search for the site and push the button to finalize my enrollment in Saturday’s yoga class; imagine trying to move in water and the current is going against you (yes, it’s like that).

But I DID IT!  I’m not going to cancel and I’m not going to let depression talk me out of going.  I’m just going to dive in head first, and get back on this road to Bakasana.


Come join me! Let’s root each other on.

Saturday, July 23, 2016 at 1215 pm

Sanctuary For Yoga Body and Spirit

2002 Richard Jones Road C-102

Nashville, TN 37215 …Register here!


See you there!