Her 1.4 million Instagram followers know fitness guru and yoga expert Sjana Elise Earp has a killer body, fashionable bikinis, and can bend her body in mind-blowing yoga poses. But something they might not know is how the Australian wellness blogger struggled with depression.
"Depression is like a big heavy shadow that follows you around. It makes you feel grumpy and moody, but numb at the same time," she shared with FEMAIL.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Major Depressive Disorder affects more than 16.1 million American adults, or about 6.7% of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year, making it one of the most common mental disorders in the country.
Earp said her experience with depression had her sleeping up to 16 hours a day, "because to me it was a way of escaping reality. I became isolated and pushed away all my friends and family - but they wouldn't let me."
The fitness star said that in addition to social media helping her on her road to recovery yoga has been an integral part of her healing.
"It has helped me find myself and now I like to spread a positive and healthy message for others," she said.
"Yoga found me at a time where I was desperately seeking positive transformation and light. Yoga knew what I needed, even before I knew," she said on her blog.
While Earp was initially attracted to the physical aspects of yoga, including toning and flexibility, she soon discovered its mental and emotional benefits after a yoga retreat in January 2016.
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"It was here, that I truly fell in love with yoga and everything it encompasses. It was here that I learned yoga is so much more than just the physical postures and movements. It is here that I realized yoga was a way of life, not a sport," she said.
Adding, "Somewhere throughout this journey, I found self-confidence again. Self-confidence helped me gain self-contentment. And this contentment helped me to regain my happiness, therefore my life."
Science agrees with Earp. Multiple studies have proven yoga is beneficial for both physical and mental health. Last year, a study from Boston University found that taking yoga classes twice a week could help ease depression, thanks in part to deep breathing.
Another 2017 study found that yoga significantly reduced depression in veterans when practiced twice a week.
Earp believes that by sharing her experience with depression, she hopes to inspire and support others who are also struggling with it.
"I found that the more I shared about my personal struggles the more I was able to help others. I now try and spread a positive message full of love and laughter."
While yoga has helped many people, like Earp, cope with their mental illness, it's important to consult a medical professional first and foremost.
Says Earp: "If anyone is struggling with feeling worthless and as though their life doesn't matter I would just encourage them to seek help."
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