Studies suggest that yoga helps to tame the stress response, improve mood and functioning ability, and even potentially help those who suffer from PTSD. Suffering from high stress and anxiety levels myself, I decided to put these findings to the test.
Naturally I was nervous at first. I pictured toned, graceful, seasoned yogis effortlessly bending themselves into almost unnatural pretzel-like shapes, and, not being the most athletically inclined, I was afraid that I wouldn’t measure up to everyone else. However, upon finally gathering my courage and attending the class for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised to find that what I had imagined in my head was not the case at all. I entered a cozy room of ten or fifteen very normal looking people, ranging from students at the local college to elderly couples. I was warmly welcomed right away. The instructor provided beginner’s variations to each of the poses, encouraging us to honor our bodies by going at our own pace and focusing on our breathing. “Your yoga mat is your space,” she said. “Right now, nothing else exists beyond it , and as long as you are here, no one and nothing else can touch you.” One hour later, I left the class feeling more secure and relaxed than I had in a very long time.
That was a year ago, and back then I never could have imagined how great an impact the practice of yoga would have on my life. After that first class, I dove headfirst into the healing world of yoga. I began to use yoga as an outlet to express my inner anxieties. Whenever I would feel upset or stressed or confused, I would find peace on my mat, remembering the words of my instructor- here, no one and nothing else could touch me. I used meditation as an alternative to harmful behaviors. Almost immediately, my stress levels began to drop, and over time I found myself generally much happier.
Not only has yoga helped to improve my mental and emotional health, but it has helped me to discover new things about myself, my spirit, and the amazing things that my body is capable of. My only competition is myself; I practice and reach new victories at my own pace. Each day I discover new ways to honor my body through yoga and achieve inner peace. What once began as a simple experiment of sorts, has now turned into a beautiful journey, and though I am but one year into this journey, I cannot wait to see what the future holds.
Interested in yoga but unsure of where to start? Check your local gym for beginner’s yoga classes, or search the web for tutorials. Here’s a shameless plug for one of my personal favorite yoga bloggers, The Journey Junkie. Her tutorials, life advice, and travel stories continue to inspire me.
Remember that everyone’s journey is different, and all are equally beautiful.
Best of luck and namaste!