How Yoga Healed My Anxiety

Backbend1

Do you ever feel that knotting, twisting feeling in your gut while everything around you kind of fades to black? Yep, that’s anxiety! What a feeling. It comes on with no warning and just loves to stick around to mess with you.

Anxiety has been so kind to have blessed me with it’s presence ever since I can remember. In fact, it was so prevalent in my life during high school that I began having these fun little things called panic attacks! (not actually fun, I’m being extremely sarcastic here).

Anyways, I ended up going through therapy and getting on an anti-anxiety medication which I continued on for several years, and while it did drastically improve my anxiety, it also seemed to diminish my personality. I didn’t have as many emotions anymore and I didn’t like the idea of having my body’s natural serotonin uptake dependent on some synthetic drug. So I decided to take control of my body back and find other ways to gain control of my anxiety.

During the process of tapering off my anti-anxiety meds, I had serious withdrawal headaches and even become slightly depressed for a short period of time since my body wasn’t able to produce enough serotonin naturally. HOWEVER. While this time period seemed to be quite dark, it actually ended up being enlightening because I discovered one of my saviors: yoga.

YOGAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA, I freakin’ love ya babay!

I had done yoga before, but I feel like I hadn’t done the right class because I went to my first flow class in Seattle and boom, I was hooked. I learned how to breathe, to take complete control of my body, to actually truly feel how it feels to be completely relaxed.

Breathe, stretch, pose, shavasana. My new favorite words. I couldn’t believe how enlightened I felt. Honestly, it changed my life. I had no idea through just the power of breath and body movement I could take back control over my anxiety. Any time I felt an anxiety attack come on, I’d take a mental step back, do some deep breathing, get my mind right, and move on.

SUCK IT ANXIETY, you can’t stay here anymore. Bu-bye.

But besides being able to take control of my anxiety, yoga is also amazing for you in like a bajillion other ways. Here, I’ll name some for ya:

  • Improved flexibility (duh)
  • Stronger muscles
  • Improved posture
  • Prevents breakdown of your body (eg joints)
  • Improved bone health
  • Improved blood flow
  • Drains lymph and improves immunity
  • Improves focus and peace of mind
  • Makes you happier

So I’m going to expand on that last point really quick because I believe this truly is my favorite part of yoga. And it’s not just like “oh I enjoy yoga so it makes me happy.” No. There have actually been studies performed that showed heightened activity in the left prefrontal cortex in people who practice yoga frequently. Why does that matter? Well because heightened activity in the left prefrontal cortex has been correlated with increased happiness levels as well as increased immune function.

Another study found that people who consistently practice yoga showed increased serotonin levels (mood boosting neurotransmitter) and decreased cortisol (stress) levels. So basically that explains exactly why yoga was able to bring me out of my lack-of-being-able-to-produce-enough-serotonin based depression. Yoga literally brought my natural serotonin production back and now it’s better than ever.

So I could go on forever on why yoga is wonderful and healing and the most fantastic thing to ever do for yourself in every way possible, but I don’t want to ramble. So just give her a try. Fun fact: sometimes I move all the furniture out of my living room, light some candles, dim the lights, and throw on a youtube yoga video if I don’t feel like leaving the house. I’m obsessed with Boho Beautiful’s yoga videos, she has one for everything! Youtube yoga videos are also great if you’ve never done yoga before and feel self conscious, you can get your bearings by doing some yoga at home and then feel more comfortable once you do actually hit the studio!

And there I go rambling again. OKAY. That’s it, no more obsessing over yoga. Just go do it already!

*As an added bonus for reading this whole post, here is a photo of me slipping while getting out of my wheel pose because I decided to wear the world’s slipperiest boots of all time. Enjoy!

yoga slip

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