Confucius once said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” That step for me was into a Warrior II pose over 6 years ago. With that first step I felt a power ignited deep within my soul – even if it only lasted the few seconds I could muster to stay balanced. I felt strong and focused. For the first time – probably ever – I felt in complete control of my body and mind, and could feel them working in unison. That feeling has only grown into a much more intense feeling I will call “yoga high.” Yoga high is a high much better than any recreational drug, alcohol, or shopping binge could ever produce. It has the power to take me from an almost certain pulmonary embolism to a zen dream-like trance. Which brings up my lesson for the day.
Stress, Anxiety, and (the anxiously dreaded) Panic Attack.
I have dealt with being an over-stressed soul my entire life. I am extremely type-A, very high-strung. In high school my mom suggested I begin a yoga practice to help relieve my stress. I began researching and practicing on and off, I just could never make the routine stick. I was fully aware of the physical benefits (hello tight lil tush!), but I didn’t have much to say for the “mind and spirit” aspects. Needless to say, yoga often got tossed aside for other things, like wasting copious amounts of life in front of the television whilst snacking on processed crap, no doubt. No wonder everything in my life seemed toxic – I was basically poisoning my well-being living that way! I acquired massive impulse-control issues (that’s a whole ‘nother story we won’t get into anytime soon ;)) during this time that I still struggle with today. Yoga adds that sense of calm that I can’t find anywhere else.
Today is a shining example of how powerful yoga can be. I have been in high-stress mode since around Valentine’s day. The knots in my back feel like they are enveloping my shoulder blades, my chest is tight and it’s hard to breathe. I know these are just symptoms of anxiety, it’s been happening for years. For lunch I decided to be lazy and order out (Mediterranean pizza on wheat crust with a Greek salad from Austin’s Pizza, mmm). Little known to me, they are doing massive construction on both major highways near my apartment. Oh yeah, and they are doing construction on the other street that would be a shortcut to my destination, perfect! So what should have taken 15 minutes round-trip ate up the whole first hour of my lunch break – the time that I normally do yoga. When I got back I had already eaten half of the personal pizza (it was yummy and there was nothing better to do!) and I don’t like to stretch with food in my belly.
So there I was, halfway into work.. full of pizza and not inner peace. Work is stressful, I’m not going to lie. But until I can afford to get my yoga certificate and teach, it pays my bills. I do tech support for DSL and you wouldn’t believe the way people treat you over the phone when they are stressed (see how bad this stuff is?). I try to counteract their negativity by being as positive as I can possibly be. The best way I’ve found to help cultivate this positive energy is by doing serious yoga sessions on my lunch break. (My typical routine takes anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, the longer the better!) I was already on the verge of a massive panic attack and was luckily allowed to leave work early. Once I got home a conversation pushed me to the edge and I had to end my phone call to do some pranayama (or breathing exercises) while lying in the dark on my bed. That calmed me down after a few minutes and I was able to breathe normally. The numbing feeling in my face (I don’t know if this happens to anyone else during a panic attack?) dissipated. Then something else sent me completely over the edge and a full-blown attack was engaged.
I laid out my yoga mat and got into child’s pose. I focused on my breathing and the sensation of the stretch. I followed with my regular routine and instantly felt better. A sensation I haven’t felt since I quit taking the pharmaceutical nonsense they fed me in pill form during my adolescence and up to last year. If you’ve ever had to rely on Clonazepam or similar benzodiazepines then you know what I’m talking about. You feel at peace, instantly okay. Great news! YOGA CAN MAKE YOU FEEL THIS! Yoga will center you and make you focus on what’s really important in this life – YOU!!!
As my journey continues, I hope you will share it with me and allow me to teach you all that yoga has to offer – for your mind, spirit, and a firm little tushie! 😉
Om-azing munchies from today:
Goodnight world! And remember to be nice next time your Internet messes up, tech support technicians do have souls!!! 😉