I have probably struggled with anxiety my whole life. However, I mostly noticed it in high school. Between playing two varsity sports and focusing on my studies, there was so much work to do in so little time.
My average day started at 7:30 a.m. when I would go to school until classes ended at 3 p.m. Then, I would have field hockey or softball practice until 6 p.m. Considering I lived 30 to 45 minutes away from my high school, I wouldn’t get home until right before 7 o’clock at night. This basically meant that I would have to shower, eat dinner and do homework before I went to bed at a reasonable hour.
Yes, I know this schedule could have been a lot worse. I know that I could have gotten home a lot later or could have had longer practices, but for someone with anxiety, having less time can lead to the worst. Having a set timeline stresses me out. Yes, having everything planned out should probably help my anxiety, but I always feel like it’s a checklist, something to quickly get done, like a race. (And does not help that I am also extremely competitive.)
So how does this connect to yoga?
IT may seem like I am writing this solely to rant about my high school life, but I’m not. Yoga was something that meant so little during high school. I did not realize the true impact it could have made so early in my life. I always practiced yoga, but not seriously. I almost took it for granted. It was more for stretching and keeping me in shape. It wasn’t until college that I fully immersed myself into its culture and lifestyle.
With that immersion and new found love, I found a new life. Yoga can mean many different things depending on the person. To some, it is an excuse to wear high fashion workout clothing. To others, a way to get fit. But to many, an escape from the real world.
For me, yoga offers a sanctuary. A place that is forever and fully accepting of me, and that will support me no matter how much I change. It is amazing how having a place that fully accepts you for you, without any judgement, can affect a person. Whenever I feel anxiety creeping up or need to take a pause on life, yoga is there for me with open arms. The best part is that you know that it is always there for you because you have control over your own practice. If you are stressed out in the airport because your flight just got cancelled, all you have to do is find a spot to sit and then focus on yourself.
You only need a place that gives you the ability to center yourself and take a pause from the everyday bustling of life. This pause can be some sun salutations, meditation or just focusing on your breath. Personally, all of these ways have helped me to defend off anxiety, but each person has their own preference.
At the end of every practice at my studio in Philadelphia, my teacher tells us to honor the light within us and within others. When stating this, we bring our hands in the shape of a “v,” with our thumb knuckles pressed against our foreheads, and welcome in all positivity.
Within this saying, there are so many ways for interpretation. Most importantly, it reminds us to stay positive and to stop getting stressed over the little things. To realize what is the most important in our hearts and to honor it fully. Because of this mantra, and so many others that one learns by being a part of the yoga community, I have become a better person by heart. A better person for both myself and for others.
Take it from me, a life without anxiety is a much fuller and beautiful life to live by. With this being said, this article is not meant to convince you to practice yoga, but to find something, like I did, that helps you to reconnect with and love yourself again. We should all have some sort of practice, whether it be yoga or not, to live by that helps us to cut out of routine and focus on ourselves.
I found mine, so what is yours?