My Journey Through Mental Health to Ashtanga – Chandler Bond

This is the story of how years of battling mental health led me to Ashtanga Yoga. Mental health is becoming more openly talked about, and through sharing my story I wish to help end the stigma. This story is raw. It is me at my most vulnerable. While some of the content may be intense, even triggering for some, but please know that I am always open to talk to anyone who needs help or has questions about anything.

Here is my story.

At the age of 12 I was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. 3 years later with depression and generalized anxiety. Finally, at 17, I was told that I have borderline personality disorder.

It’s a lovely disorder with a plethora of symptoms of varying intensities. A few of them being: chronic feelings of emptiness, impulsive and at times dangerous behaviours, self harm, recurring suicidal behaviours, dissociation, intense fear of real or imagined abandonment and many more. All of which I have experienced at various points in my life – sometimes in the span of 24 hours. It is a constant battle that on some days I forget to fight.

My intense emotions triggered my thoughts to scream at me – it felt terrifying.

When I was a child I was very easily frustrated with myself. I cried easily and threw very big tantrums. This frustration carried into my teens – the height of my illness. Around 14 I developed horrific coping mechanisms, mainly self harm and bulimia. In my later teens I added drugs and alcohol in the mix. My intense emotions triggered my thoughts to scream at me – it felt terrifying. I can’t find the words to describe just exactly how they felt and how badly I did not want to feel them. But believe me, it was awful.

At times it felt like an all encompassing anxiety. Others it felt like emptiness that ached and pulled in the pit of my stomach. I hurt constantly – emotionally and physically. The amount of self loathing and shame I harbored inside myself took over my mind. I thought of suicide often. I did everything I could to stop these emotions, to run away – to change how I felt quickly. All I wanted was a quick fix. Cutting, vomiting, fasting for days to feel numb, drugs, sex, booze. I have attempted suicide multiple times and had a few vacations at the local psych ward.

I was awful, selfish, at points manipulative, and explosive towards my worried and stressed out family.

I saw therapists here and there, though nothing was helping much. It wasn’t until the month I started injecting ketamine into my veins that I truly realized how much I was destroying my life. Thankfully that is when I finally got my spot at Broadview psychology. A crisis house focusing on dialectical behavioural therapy. An action based therapy that uses dialectics, radical acceptance, self care, validation and many other tools to change and heal a person. I’ve been there for 6 years now.

Then I found Ashtanga.

I went with my sister, Devon. She had been doing Ashtanga for a few months when she asked me to take a beginner class. At that point my relationship with Devon had bloomed into something so strong. I looked up to her and trusted her more than anyone – I still do. So I put my faith in her again when she told me to take this chance.

I had never practiced any form of yoga before, and the way my life had been going, I was never motivated to do sports or really commit myself to anything. The reaction I had to my first class was surprising for me.

The class was amazing. I never knew my body could talk to me like it did. I felt so incredibly connected and grateful towards my body that I shed a tear in one of the closing poses. It was very emotional for me. It was only a few days after that I went into the Mysore room for the first time, and never looked back.

The more I practiced the more I asked myself: How did I get here; to this place? To be given this chance for such internal spiritual healing. How could I possibly be prepared for this strict, demanding practice? How will I be able to devote myself to this?

I wasn’t sure but I knew deep inside my bones that I needed Ashtanga.

I wear my battles on my body, a physical showing of self-loathing and a lot of inner turmoil. I can only imagine the many kinds of thoughts people have when they see my scars. I have always tried to be accepting of them, though my thoughts linger as teachers assist me. Maybe they don’t notice them or possibly there is a fleeting recognition in their minds. Either way, my scars mean more to me than they ever could to anyone else, so I don’t dwell long on what other people may think of them. I know that all of us suffer and that all of us in that room are there because the practice simply makes the suffering easier to handle.

I recently read Taylor Hunts book “A Way From Darkness”, where he explains that when he began Ashtanga he felt out of place in Mysore room. This feeling resonates with me. He explains that there are people who do yoga to bring more happiness to their lives, then there are people who do yoga to bring themselves sanity. I am definitely the latter.

If I can wake up to be at the studio for 7 am and get into Supta Kurmasana, there’s no challenge I can’t face head on later that day.

I’ve been practicing for a year now. If you practice regularly I’m sure you can relate to how much this practice has affected your life so positively. I feel stronger in every way. If I can wake up to be at the studio for 7 am and get into Supta Kurmasana, there’s no challenge I can’t face head on later that day.

I have never experienced such a strong connection to my physical body. Something that I spent most of my life criticizing. It has helped me accept what I have always seen as physical flaws. I can finally hear my body communicating with me. Every practice I am learning more about my body’s limits and strengths. In just this year I have shed layers upon layers of self doubt; of ego. I have learned not to be so harsh on myself. I am more confident in owning who I am, knowing that this practice is playing a huge role in helping me become the human I want to be.

What I’ve realized is that therapy, just like Ashtanga, is not a linear path.

It is a complete zig zag, taking many steps forward and steps backwards. But with true intention and willingness, the zig zag still moves in a forward direction.

When people talk about mental illness, there is often this idea of “recovery” that comes up. This idea that you’ll go to therapy, and get back to some former self that wasn’t so messed up. Recovery implies there is some self to go return to. That isn’t so for me. But through therapy and Ashtanga I continue to build a whole new person.

This disorder is always with me. I will never be able to stop working on it. There are many ups and downs daily, big slopes and big plunges. It’s gotten so much better the more I’ve worked on it. I feel much less shame and much less fear. Although my illness takes me to dark and strange places that get in the way of my practice, I know Ashtanga is always there waiting for me and I am incredibly grateful. It’s teachings are limitless and as I continue to practice I will learn to surrender more. I am still learning how to devote myself , but now that I’ve awakened to the magic of Ashtanga, I can never go back to sleep.

Posted in

Melissa Singh


  1. Susanne on March 28, 2018 at 10:57 am

    Thank you so much for your inspiring words.

    • Chandler on March 28, 2018 at 7:52 pm

      Thank you for taking the time to read 🙂

  2. raven hume on March 28, 2018 at 12:02 pm

    Brilliant and so inspiring. Thanks for following your heart path and support us fellow practitioners with your courageous presence! please continue!

    • Chandler on March 28, 2018 at 7:53 pm

      Thank you very much for reading. I will continue.

  3. Andrea on March 28, 2018 at 1:26 pm

    Thank you for sharing your deep self. May you continue to heal on your path. May you grow stronger in your personal and spiritual life. You have come so far already. Your story inspires me. I have shared it with my sister.

    • Chandler on March 28, 2018 at 7:53 pm

      Thank you very much . It means a lot that you read and shared my story.

  4. Brian Acker on March 28, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    Thank you for sharing. And welcome to the community!

  5. Iacopo on March 29, 2018 at 8:00 am

    “Spiritus Contra Spiritum”

  6. carol diamond on March 29, 2018 at 10:47 am

    Thank you for sharing your story. Your story can help so many people feel that they are not alone.

  7. Jade on March 29, 2018 at 6:41 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story Chandler! It is inspiring and gives hope to many out there suffering… Yoga is the path of enlightenment and I hope with every passing day it brightens your path just a little bit more like it does mine.

  8. Gp on March 29, 2018 at 11:54 pm

    This is beautiful. So glad to have read it and many thanks for writing it. So much love to you and this Ashtanga practice.

  9. Eric A. on April 9, 2018 at 6:35 pm

    What a great story of strength! Way to go Chan.

  10. Liz on April 10, 2018 at 8:09 pm

    Thank you Chandler for your bravery and beauty. We need more voices like yours. Your words undoubtedly help others already.

  11. Romi on September 19, 2018 at 9:47 pm

    Chan I’m so proud of you !!! To go through all you’ve gone through and continue to fight the way you do is so inspiring. I’m so happy you found something that makes your world an easier place to life in. I love you!

    • Melissa Singh on September 26, 2018 at 4:06 pm

      We love all your love Romi, Chandler is awesome!