The Anxiety Project: Yoga + Anxiety

Finding Balance On The Mat: How Yoga Helped Heal My Anxiety

By Alexandria Rose Rizik

Numb limbs. Pounding heart. Suffocated breathing. Dizziness. You know what I am talking about if you are someone that suffers from anxiety.

My anxiety began around the age of eighteen. An overwhelming feeling of stress that suddenly caused my arms to go numb and my heart to double its rate left me clueless as to what was going on.

It felt like an appending doom.

Surely enough, it was a panic attack.

Anyone that has never experienced anxiety firsthand doesn’t understand how horrible it can be.

This anxiety began to run my life (yuck!).

I then met a yoga instructor who had witnessed one of my frequent panic attacks and encouraged me to come take one of her classes. I was desperate and was willing to try ANYTHING.

I showed up one Monday morning to a hot yoga studio in Scottsdale, Arizona. I was nervous. The heat and Sanskrit were intimidating and I was the farthest thing from a “yogi” (Lululemon sounded like the name of a foreign country)! But in that single class I discovered that yoga is all about the breath-body connection: that whenever your mind starts drifting off to thoughts that do not serve you, you can always come back to the breath and just LET GO.

I eventually moved on to a flow class at the studio taught by this brilliant instructor named Matt Hodges, who helped me dive deeper into my practice.

As Hodges explains, “Yoga helps with anxiety because it teaches you proper thought process. It teaches you how to block everything out and focus on one task. It’s designed to help you tune in to what’s happening inside your body…Most people know that to slow down your mind you should slow down your breath. The longer you can maintain a deep meditative breath, the chemistry of your body and mind begin to change.”

I fell in love with yoga and eventually went through teacher training myself.

After a while, life got in the way and I stopped making yoga a priority. While I felt fine at first, the lack of yoga caught up with me and struck me with a surge of anxiety. I knew I had to get back to yoga ASAP.

Getting back on the mat immediately reminded me that I can always come back to my breath and that surviving in that hot room means I can survive anything. When you are in that room and your body is being pushed past its limits, the goal is to stick with the breath, to listen to your body, and to trust that all will be okay!

If you are someone who suffers from anxiety- or even if you just want to become in tune with your inner self- find a local yoga studio and sign up for an introductory package! No one in the world has ever said, “I regret that yoga class.”

Seize the opportunity to evolve and educate yourself on holistic approaches to bettering the mind and the body!

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