Sometime about 5 years ago, or so when I was struggling with being newly divorced, living alone in a new town, and attempting to enter a relationship again, I found myself re-introducing myself to yoga. I found a studio in my neighborhood that taught yoga that I hadn’t tried before called Kundalini–basically a practice that seeks to release the serpent-like coil of energy stored at the base of our spine. At first it was something totally weird for me and a bit hocus-pocusy, but after a while it became a routine, and then even a necessity for my well-being.
I bring this up because a friend was telling me that she’s been struggling with anxiety and depression lately and taking a medication that leaves her foggy and not feeling much better. Without trying to be dogmatic, it’s always my first instinct to suggest a yoga class to someone who has these complaints. It makes me cringe a little because I sound like my mother who’s only advice for a down day has ever been to either a.) go exercise or b.) write the feelings in a letter. Two solutions–that is it, and that is all. Well, from personal experience I can say that going to yoga usually helps!
Years ago when Dino was moving in to my condo after I’d been living solo for a while (at my suggestion, mind you) I remember having a bit of a meltdown on moving day–he was unpacking his things and the whole entire bed was covered in his clothes. There were so many of his clothes and I had a flash of “what am I getting into???” He could see the look of terror on my face and he knowingly just said “Why don’t you go do some yoga?” Plenty of other times I’ve used yoga to talk myself off the edge of an emotional cliff.
Though I have a whole lot to learn about yoga philosophy and anatomy (I find it hard to believe that it could ever be learned in a lifetime) I feel like I have already learned so much about myself on an emotional and a physical level. My body has gone through changes as a result and I’ve learned to accept my limitations and explore new boundaries, and also to use all of my parts in a beneficial, however small, way. My heart is more open as a result of this practice and I’ve come to understand my “hang-ups” from a different perspective and be kinder to myself in general when I’m struggling. I have no religion in my life, but yoga has brought me to a peaceful place and helped be build a spiritual relationship with a higher power that I feel connected to.
I don’t get into the yoga studio every day, but every day I practice yoga in a spiritual and physical sense. Often, it’s simple movements like sun salutations, or restorative poses to help me wind down in the evening. And every day I read something from my collection of books on yoga philosophy, anatomy, and spirituality. But yoga can be so many things to so many people–every time you breathe mindfully you are practicing yoga.
Are you a yoga student or teacher? Have you tried or been curious to try? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below.