I am an anxious person. The question “what’s the worst that could happen?” is not a rhetorical one for me. It is a challenge. What’s the worst that could happen, you ask? Let me tell you, because my insane brain has already formulated about forty different scenarios that could go down.
Also, you just jinxed us.
Anxiety has been my near-constant companion and worst enemy for most of my life. Without getting long-winded about it – this is a health and fitness blog, not my personal diary, I get it – I have tried it all: therapy, medication, wringing my hands, rocking in a corner. And while all of these things worked, some much better than others (don’t really recommend the last two), there’s one thing that always nips my anxiety in the bud.
It’s a little thing called yoga, my friends. Yes, while I’m harnessing my chi I’m also wrangling my anxiety. I can’t hear you over all of my deep breathing and namaste-ing, scary thoughts!
There’s a long list of studies that back up my anecdotal evidence, too. Just Google “anxiety and exercise” and pages upon pages of articles will pop up citing the short- and long-term benefits of exercise in those of us that are prone to it.
While running calms me (woo, endorphins!), there’s something special about yoga that gets to the root of my anxiety, those little tendrils of worry that burrow into every-day life, and digs them out.
Maybe it’s the purpose with which you have to practice the poses, how everything is slowed down. Maybe it’s that yoga gently forces you to go inward instead of looking out at the world, which can be admittedly pretty scary and weird, especially in San Francisco. Maybe it’s all of those gorgeous words that describe the different poses, the mantras like the previously mentioned namaste, like shanti and om, a chant that is said to be the sound of the universe.
Cool, right? How could I not be completely chill after an hour and a half of all that?
Yoga was the one fitness routine I did religiously while I was pregnant. Not only was it the one form of exercise that didn’t send my heart rate skyrocketing into the atmosphere, it also made me feel more positively connected to my body and mind, which in turn made me feel more connected to the little person growing inside of me. As hokey as it sounds, it made me realize what a freaking rock star my body was, to be doing all of that work.
For all the anxiety I put myself through during my pregnancy and for those moments now when fear rears its ugly head, a calming reality check is just a short walk away to my neighborhood yoga studio.
So hey, while I’m sitting here thinking of the worst that could happen, I might as well do it in the lotus pose.
Do you practice yoga? Or is there another exercise that helps you get mellow? Tell me in the comments!