Saturday, April 23, 2016

I'm an Anxious Yogi and You Can Be Too!

This pose is easier than it looks.
Yoga. You've probably heard a therapist mention it before. You've definitely heard of mindfulness, meditation and other elements of yoga in the mental health world if you've been part of it for more than a minute. It's one of the many tools you can keep in your toolbox for fighting OCD and mental illness in general. If you're not trying it or practicing it already, I urge you to try. I find it helps, and you might too.

You may already be thinking one of the following things:
  • I'm not flexible enough for yoga.
  • I'm not the right age for yoga.
  • I'm not the right religion for yoga.
Everyone is flexible enough for yoga. Everyone. Yoga is not about achieving acrobatic feats of flexibility. Sitting in a cross-legged position is yoga. Hell, even lying on the floor on your back with your palms facing up is yoga. Which brings me to age. This is not a barrier for yoga. Elderly folks and toddlers do yoga. Finally, yoga can be completely secular. It's up to the yogi whether they want to do things like chant, seek spiritual guidance, etc. Me? I just hit the mat with my tight muscles. I'll leave the chanting and spiritual awakening to more enlightened folk.

So, we've established that most of the barriers people put up with yoga are bullshit. I should also add that you definitely have enough time to practice. There are no rules. You can do yoga for five minutes twice a week. No one cares. This is your practice.

I know you can. You know you can. Let's move on to why you should.
  • Mindfulness
  • Goals
  • Self-satisfaction
  • Pain relief
  • Party tricks

The above are really just a few of the benefits I've reaped from practicing yoga. We learn mindfulness to keep us in every moment. As mentally ill folk, we need that. Yoga is all about being in the moment, in your body, in your mind, pushing yourself gently, and being forgiving of yourself. Setting goals helps us have something to work for, which leads to being satisfied when we achieve those goals. Stretching helps relieve tension. For me, it relieves pressure on my sciatic nerve. Finally, some yoga poses that are easy look really hard. You'll have some bragging rights when you nail them, but you'll also be fine if you don't.

I'm a very anxious person. There are days when I'm so wobbly I can't even do basic yoga poses. However, there are also days when I can hold up my body weight in balance poses I never would have dreamed possible. On those days, yoga focuses my mind and body. I'm anxious. I have OCD. I'm in my thirties. I have a hundred reasons not to do yoga, but I do it anyway. It's good for me. It can be good for you too.