This is a piece I wrote for a local yoga studio blog last year. Yoga has been very healing to me. I have learned to breathe easier rather than hyperventilate when stressed. I know how to stretch my muscles and joints when I am tired and achy. Lately, I have had a different reaction to yoga. I have left class feeling fuzzy or having a headache within an hour or two. Whenever this occurred before I usually knew a sinus infection was developing.
The last few months this hasn’t been the case. I am not exactly sure what is going on but I don’t like it. Yoga has been my solace. I used to be a runner but as I have gotten older it’s become harder to run. I was instructed not to run much on pavement since I have herniated discs from the labor of Middle Miss and also from our car accident. Apparently, herniated discs can get worse through constant pounding.
If anyone has a solution please share. I so want to get the euphoric feeling back. In the meantime, I am continuing my yoga practice in the hopes that the issue will correct itself.
It was a few years ago, sitting in a ballet studio speaking with a few other moms while our daughters were in class, that I had a conversation I now realize changed my life.
I was suffering the aftermath of a car accident that left my 3-year-old with a severe Traumatic Brain Injury, her sister with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and me with a mild Traumatic Brain Injury and other injuries. The resulting stress caused hyperventilating, debilitating stomach issues, and skin breakouts that I hadn’t even experienced as a teen. There was a time that I was convinced I had pneumonia since I kept feeling pressure in my lungs. My doctor ordered X-rays, but they turned up clear. The doctor thought I was probably suffering from panic attacks and/or anxiety due to all the stress in my life. I realized he was right.
That day in the ballet studio, one of those moms suggested that I try yoga. I hate to admit this now, but my impression of yoga was that it was no more than a bunch of hippies sitting around with legs crossed and saying OM the entire time.
Since my youngest daughter would soon be entering school full time, I decided it was finally time to try a yoga class. I walked in with much trepidation and started with the beginner’s level. I told the receptionist that I didn’t have any experience with yoga. I didn’t even own a mat. I figured it would be a laid-back 90 minutes. I was so wrong.
One of the first lessons was learning to control your breath and only think about the breath for the next 90 minutes. We were instructed to leave our mental lists and anything else on our minds at the door and focus on our breathing. I had never done this before. It was REALLY HARD! I was so used to thinking about a million things concurrently. No wonder I was having issues. Over time I learned how to do this as soon as the class began and it was so liberating. I never realized that I could let go of all the thoughts and just breathe.
After learning how to breathe correctly I was then able to focus on me and only me for 90 minutes. Going to the studio started to hold so much hope and promise for me. I began to understand the terms associated with yoga and yearned for more. I began trying different class styles and learned which ones resonated for me. My stomach issues improved as well as the acne. Over time, the panic attacks and anxiety were better.
One of the best things about yoga is that competition does not exist in the studio. Everyone comes in with different levels of experience and abilities, but we work as one to heal and rejuvenate our souls. If I had a day that left me with less energy and it took all I had just to arrive at the studio, then no one was the wiser. I never walked away regretting taking the time for myself.
It was in the Flow Yoga studio that I found my release. I could stretch the tension out, sweat it out, breathe, and end with a five-minute rest. No one could yell, “Mommy”, and interrupt my introspection; my phone was left at the door. I walked out of the studio feeling rejuvenated.
I have introduced yoga to my three children and each has approached it very differently. I hope as they get older they will begin to reach for their yoga mat and discover themselves. Now, if I could only get my husband to embrace a yoga practice.