Fitness,  Health

How Yoga Helped Me

Never in my life would I have expected to like yoga as much as I do. Let me take that back… LOVE yoga as much as I do! Y’all, it has changed my life in four short months and I know it could do the same for you. I’ll back up and explain more of my story with this.

In December of 2019, I felt that I wanted to start exercising again. I was four months postpartum and wanting to get back into a routine BUT I didn’t want to go back to hardcore workouts because I was scared. I’ve had five babies and my core strength is at it’s weakest plus taking a few months off didn’t make me want to crush it at the gym. I decided to ease back into working out with yoga. I had no idea what it was even about to be honest.

My Beautycounter mentor and friend Olga, is a yoga teacher and has begged me to go for years because she knew that I struggled with anxiety and depression. I have always shrugged off her suggestions and went to my first yoga class for completely different reasons. Little did I know that she would be right after all and yoga would actually help with my anxiety and depression. I can honestly say that I’ve seen a huge improvement in both of these areas since practicing on a daily basis for the last few months.

Many research studies have explored the benefits of yoga and meditation and the way that it helps with anxiety. Yoga has been proven to reduce the physical symptoms that come along with stressful and overwhelming situations in your life. One of the things that I love about yoga is that it makes you focus on being present in your practice verses worrying about the future which is a huge factor in creating anxiety. I can walk into yoga feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders and walk out feeling like a million bucks. It literally peels the layers of yuck off of me and my mental so that I can fully enjoy my day. Who wouldn’t want to feel better?

In addition to helping with my anxiety and depression is a way to get my core strength back and also form muscles. I don’t want to look a certain way but I do want to make my body run at it’s peak performance and yoga definitely does all of that. I didn’t realize that the reason for certain movements is to literally release toxins from your body. IT’S MIND BLOWING when you start learning about the connections it has to your body.

I practice yoga at Soulift in Florence, SC. This is a barre, Pilates and yoga studio owned by Grace and B. They are friends of mine and have also been such a big impact in my postpartum healing and fitness. I’ll share more about pure Barre soon so stay tuned. I did as B a few questions that I feel like would be beneficial to hear about the connections of anxiety and yoga, let me know if you have more questions and I can get an answer for you. I also urge you to try their online yoga and barre membership right now! Message them on Facebook or instagram (@soulift_flo) to get more information.

Q: How often should you practice yoga for anxiety?
A: You can practice yoga daily. Yoga is not just physical movement (asana) but also breathing, also know as pranayama. A steady, equal inhalation and exhalation is super grounding and incredibly helpful for anxiety.

Q: What type of yoga practice is best for anxiety?
A: As far as anxiety and yoga, I would not recommend a vigorous yoga practice. A grounding, gentle flow or restorative yoga is perfect for anxiety. I also recommend a set sequence practice, like ashtanga as it doesn’t throw any curve balls and it’s like coming home. It’s a familiar practice once you do it a few times.

Q: What is UJJAYI breath and how can it help with anxiety?
A: this translates as victorious breath. The inhale and exhale are equal in length and the breath is audible for me, it reminds me of the ocean. On inhalation it’s as if the wave of breath comes towards the shore and collects handprints foot prints aka any clutter of the mind. And on exhalation the wave returns to the ocean of breath leaving behind a clean slate. I often say the breath in a yoga practice is equivalent to your voice, so I encourage your voice or breath to be heard. This breath encourages you to be in control of your energy, and thoughts by placing awareness on your breath. Therefore, you can help to soothe any anxiety you may experience.

Q: What yoga poses should I do first if I am experiencing anxiety?
A: I would recommend an easy seat or child’s pose first to find your breath and gather your mind in your body. Inversions are also great for anxiety as it gets the head lower than the heart; it’s as if you are bathing and calming your nervous system with your awareness. I often like to place my hand on one bone in my body, like my collar bone or ribs to get grounded in the now, remind myself that I am now here. Doing this helps to collect the scattered mind and thoughts and bring it back into the now.

Q: How can I practice with an instructor when I am at home?
A: You can practice with SOULIFT in our virtual studio, SOULIFT GOES LIVE! At least 2 live classes per day and tons of classes you can watch on your time! It’s just $28 for 2 weeks.