How I found yoga and why I practice

I found yoga almost eight years ago. I often contemplate if yoga could be the answer to things like world peace and reducing illnesses like diabetes, depression and cancer.  That's how much I love yoga. 

I like to say I "accidentally" found yoga because I began my practice alone one day in my living room via some random yoga DVD whose title I do not remember.  I was newly engaged and starting a new sales career but secretly, I was overcome with anxiety and panic inside.  Do you know the difference between Anxiety and Panic Attacks?  Anxiety is a feeling that lingers for an extended period of time and includes symptoms like muscle tension, fatigue and difficulty concentrating.  Panic attacks come on suddenly causing an accelerated heart rate, trembling, sweating, hot flashes, chest pain, faintness, shortness of breath and a terrible feeling of being detached from your present self.  I suffered from both daily but did not talk about it to anyone.  I was not depressed so to speak, but I was living a life blanketed by fear.  To the outside world, I was a blushing bride to be and a young professional with my career ahead of me. But something was missing. I was desperate to try anything that would help me manage the feelings of drowning in my own thoughts.  I did not want to take antidepressant medications and I did not want to "talk about my feelings" to a therapist who didn't even know me.  This was something deeply rooted inside my own mind that only I could heal.  Then I found yoga in my very own living room.  Alone.

The first time I practiced, a feeling of joy rushed over me.  My mind was not racing uncontrollably as I focused on the poses, my breathe and my gaze.  I experienced that wonderful feeling of being present, listening and feeling my breathe go in and out of my body and nothing more. For the first time in a long time, I was in control of my mind and it was one with my body.  They were not battling each other anymore.  In Sanskrit, the word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root "yuj", meaning "to control", "to yoke" or "to unite."  Being able to unite my mind, body and spirit through yoga gave me a high I had never experienced before.  I felt whole.  I felt like I was living with purpose.  Every single time I finish a yoga practice now, I silently give thanks for my physical and mental health.

Over the past eight years, I've experienced marriage, jobs, pregnancies, miscarriages, children, broken bones, loss of loved ones and everything in between.  My yoga practice has been there every step of the way.  I've come to realize that much of my anxiety was rooted in my quest for perfection and not loving myself completely.  The beauty of yoga is that it is a practice and it doesn't require you or even ask you to be perfect.  It simply asks you to just be.  

Some of you may wonder if I physically practice yoga everyday, meaning engaging in poses and such.  The answer is no.  I physically practice a few times a week.  However, I cannot get through a single day, and sometimes a single hour, without practicing the mental aspects of yoga.  For me, the most challenging yet most rewarding aspect of my yoga practice is my ability to keep my mind focused and free of fear, self doubt and criticism. You may also wonder if I still suffer from anxiety and panic attacks.  The answer is yes, but very rarely.  The difference now is that I am able to acknowledge these thoughts without allowing them to consume my entire being.  Did yoga make me a more perfect person?  Absolutely not.  However, because of yoga, I am more grateful, more positive, more loving, more spiritual, more hopeful, more confident, more accepting, more kind, more patient and most importantly more forgiving.   

My yoga teacher often says that the challenges we face on our mat help us to face the challenges we meet in life.  I couldn't agree more. We all have challenges whether they are mental, physical or spiritual.  It's how we choose to face them that matters most.

*photo from 2010 on our trip to the Greek isles

4 comments:

  1. Wow, this is an amazing post. Thank you so much for writing this. As you know yoga is very important to me as well. I loved reading about it from your perspective!

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  2. Amy,

    Yoga helped me quit smoking! Love it!

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  3. Very inspiring post. What DVDs do you suggest? I want to do yoga at home,after work this winter...we get snow!
    Love your blog.

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  4. Your Southern PeachSeptember 7, 2010 at 9:07 PM

    L,

    Thank you! Winter is a great time to practice yoga especially during the hectic holiday season. It's a nice way to focus your energies inward and recharge.

    As for suggestions on DVD's, there is such a wide variety out there that it's hard for me to point you in one direction. I have several by Rodney Yee that I enjoy. The best advice I can give you is to get one that you will actually do on a regular basis. Try renting a few from your local library, Netflix or borrowing from a friend to find a style that fits your needs. There are also several PM Yoga DVDs that might be a nice way to relax after work.

    Thanks for stopping by and please visit again soon!

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