The Perks Of Being a Yogi, Or How I Eased My Anxiety Without Drugs

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CATHY PHAM / Unsplash

I spent years avoiding yoga like the plague. Friends would ask me to join them for a class, or attend a class that they were teaching and I always had a million excuses for them. It’s too slow. It’s for hippies. It’s for hipsters. It seems boring. I just ate. I’m on my way to eat. I have to get a root canal. One of my best friends in college was obsessed with hot yoga. Nothing sounded more nightmarish to me than suffocating in a 100-degree room while attempting to balance on one foot or whatever. I’m really all set with that, thanks.

Fast-forward ten years and in a crazy turn of events, I finally attended my very first yoga class. I had recently made a new friend, which was a big deal for me. Although I’m super chatty and friendly with nearly everyone I meet, I don’t often actually let people into my world. We had bonded over our shared diagnosis of unexplained infertility and an unhealthy obsession with Disney movies. She invited me to a yoga class, and for once I didn’t say no. I don’t exactly know what made me say yes, but I’m pretty sure it had something to do with how much I really liked and respected my new friend. It might have also been the promise of getting a smoothie after class. I am very motivated by food. In any sense, I am so glad I said yes. I attended a Sunday evening, candlelight mellow vinyasa class, and my world changed a little bit that night.

Let me be perfectly clear. This was by no stretch of the imagination a beginner class. I felt uncoordinated, wobbly, confused, unskilled, and klutzy for about 85 percent of the class. Miraculously during the other 15 percent, I felt a new kind of relaxed that honestly I had never experienced before. It was strange. While I was trying really freaking hard to hold “tree pose,” I wasn’t thinking about a single thing. It was glorious. What a revelation this was for me! Feeling tragically uncoordinated actually did wonders for my overactive mind.

You see I’ve always been both a reminiscer and a planner. While neither one is really a horrible thing to be, the combination of the two exclusively isn’t exactly ideal. If one is always longing for the days of yore and worrying about the days to come, it is pretty darn hard to actually just enjoy the present day.

The things I miss about bygone days are pretty basic: family members who have passed; having much less responsibility; and, of course, indulging in Oreo cookies on a daily basis (ah gluten how I long for thee). And what of my worries for the future? Those are a little more complex. Will I get everything done this weekend that I am hoping to get done? (Eh does it really matter?) Will this school year be a success? (Depends upon how one defines “a success.”) Will we ever find our dream home? (I hope so!) Will my body ever allow me to conceive a baby with my husband who I love more than anything in this world? (crickets…) Will we have the courage to pursue other avenues to parenthood? (louder crickets…)

The memories, the questions, and (yes) even the parenthetical notations are all fluttering around inside my brain at breakneck speed and sometimes I just can’t seem to ignore them. And when I can’t ignore them, I tend to do two things: get lost in the past and furiously plan for the future. I take strolls through memories that I cannot physically return to and attempt to “prepare” for things that I cannot possibly know will happen.

Practicing yoga, however, all of a sudden became a much healthier and satisfying antidote to my ever-racing mind. I relish in the idea of spending an hour and fifteen minutes clumsily attempting to get good at something I am pretty certain I will never get good at, and I’m totally ok with that fact. Since my first class, I have only gotten slightly better at “tree pose” but the entirety of my mind, body, and soul has healed and grown in ways I never knew were possible. I will be forever grateful to my friend for initiating me into that beautiful, serene world. TC mark

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