Years ago when I was dependent on a brown paper bag to stop the never ending wave of panic attacks that were a staple in my daily life, it was suggested that I consider yoga as a tool in my battle against anxiety. Whenever I looked into yoga, I immediately said no. Why? I never saw people who looked like me doing yoga. Here in the West, the media image of a yoga practitioner almost always features a very thin and very white woman. Sorry. I am neither very thin nor am I very white.
Several years ago I got sick and tired of dealing with the low grade anxiety that had been a staple in my life since the age of 19 and decided to give yoga a chance. To say the process was intimidating would be an understatement. At that time, I kept reading about a relatively new studio in my area that offered a class that wouldn’t require me to do anything but lie down and relax. Excellent! Yoga for the not thin and the very lazy.
The class was Yoga Nidra and over time, it did relax me. I must confess, I spent many sessions trying not to fall asleep and wondering had I finally gone over the edge. But in the end it did relax me; so much that after many months and some corrective abdominal surgery, I bit the bullet and went to a class where I would actually have to move and strike a pose. I have been on the mat striking poses ever since and after four plus years; anxiety is no longer a staple in my life. Yoga gave me the tools through asana and pranayama to quiet my mind and go deep enough internally where I can release my gremlins when they overstay their welcome.
Over the years, readers and friends alike have asked if I would share photos of myself on the mat. Honestly it was something that I was on the fence about; when I am on the mat, my time and experience is divine. But as someone who struggled in the early days, I know there is value in seeing bodies that are not the standard images practicing yoga. So here is a shot of me in one of my favorite poses, this pose is a reminder that in my weak moments I am strong.