I know that I’ve talked about it here a million times and I’m sure that people in my life are sick of hearing it, but yoga has changed my life in so many ways that it’s hard not to talk about it. Where once anxiety waited around every turn, preying on my weaknesses, telling me that I would never amount to anything and that each little task was a mountain to climb, I now have tools to keep it away and keep myself strong. Where I once saw the words “no,” “I can’t,” “never,” I now start to see “I can” and “I will.” Anxiety still lives down inside of me, sometimes bubbling up to take over, but now it is easier to push it back down and make it behave. Anxiety now lives largely in the background, leaving the rest to be filled with living life. Some of this is because I found a great psychiatrist. Some of it is because I’ve gotten older and more comfortable with myself. But a large part of the credit goes to yoga.
Because so much of my anxiety is centered around my body and health, yoga is an excellent counter to it. If I can control what my body does in so many ways, there is less room to find fault with it. Add a little meditation and breathing to interrupt those ruminations and yoga is the perfect recipe for my particular brand of anxiety.
I still find myself daunted by certain tasks, especially those that might interrupt the calm(ish) little life I’ve got going here. But it has come to a point where my life needs a shake-up. I need to push past the “I can’t” and into the “I will.” So again, I’m turning to yoga
7 years ago I couldn’t do this.
5 years ago I couldn’t do this.
1 year ago I couldn’t do this.
If I can hold warrior II, balance on my arms, and freakin STAND on my HEAD, I can do anything right? At least, that’s what I tell myself when my mind is full of doubts. Yoga reminds me that I am strong, that I can overcome fear, and that I have control. With that on my side, the only thing left to do is to move forward.
Aside from the walk, I’ve been feeling kind of stagnant in my life. I’m doing the same old work. This blog seems to have stalled out. I spend half my day dropping off and picking up children from various places. Even yoga was feeling stale. For nearly two years of a more-intense yoga practice, I was still excited to go to class and rejuvenated afterward…until I wasn’t. I started holding onto anxiety during my practice and feeling stuck. With life being busier, it seemed easier to just stay home and get a little work done or have that extra time to clean up or do whatever other task inevitably was left undone during the day.
This left me feeling depressed. Yoga had been my safe haven, my relaxation, my energy, my love for so long. Was it over? Would I have to search for some new passion? I didn’t want it to be the end. Plus, I have an annual membership to my studio that doesn’t end until August so I HAVE to go. That shit is expensive! So I continued to go and I enjoyed it, but didn’t feel passionate the way I used to.
Then last week I went to my usual class with one of my favorite instructors–the instructor who helped ignite my passion with an arm balance years ago. We had been working on astavakrasana or eight angle pose and this day I just GOT it. I held it so well that she tried to get me to transition into eka pada koundinayasana II, but that didn’t work out because of a sensitive shoulder (and it’s REALLY hard!). But that didn’t matter, in holding that pose I felt it again; that spark, that love, that excitement. When I got home I showed the pose to my husband and kids, who said it was a “cool trick.” Well, it IS a cool trick.
Holding that one pose brought me back into myself and into the moment. It helped me to remember why I love yoga in the first place. The answer is most definitely NOT advanced poses, although it was for me this time. The answer is finding something in yourself that you didn’t know was there. In the past it’s been exciting advanced poses, mantras that touched something inside of me, classes that made me feel like a part of something larger than myself, and even watching a fellow student discover a new pose for themselves. It seems that I am not done with yoga yet and yoga is most certainly not done with me. In the words of every yoga teacher ever, “it is a practice.”
Oh yeah! Astavakrasana baby!
Also, notice how my home practice inevitably involves children…