How Yoga Saved My Sanity

How Yoga Saved My Sanity

An anxious mom of two discovers surprising benefits and relief in regular yoga practice.

By: Maria Mora

Last year, I couldn't touch my toes. Actually, even when I was 12, I couldn't touch my toes. I never thought I was a yoga person -- all that chanting and new age stuff sounded way too out there to me. But over the past year, I've discovered my inner yogi, and my practice has given me surprising relief from anxiety. It's also given me something I desperately needed -- goals.

Whenever I heard people talking about yoga, I’d roll my eyes. As far as I was concerned, yoga was something hippies did. It certainly wasn’t for me. I had tight hamstrings and zero balance and a tendency to giggle helplessly when frustrated. When my doctor advised me to try working out to help with my anxiety, I tried workout DVDs at home and invested in some group fitness classes, but it all felt like work. One weekend, I received a coupon for a free yoga class at a real studio. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I gave it a try.

The first thing that hit me when I walked into the studio was the palpable sense of peace. The dim lights, faint smell of calming incense and soft voices immediately melted away some of the nervous tension in my body. The instructor smiled at me and asked how I was feeling. Within minutes, I had a rental mat and my own place on the gorgeous hardwood floor.

I won’t lie -- I was terrible at yoga that night. I cringed and wobbled and groaned. I pulled something in my groin that hurt for days. But I walked away with a goal in mind. Some day, I was going to touch my toes.

That day came sooner than I expected. Now I go back to that same studio three times a week. I still wobble and groan, but I can keep up. When I reach the end of each class and sprawl onto my back in corpse pose, my body hums with contentment and my mind stays quiet. It’s a welcome release from the hectic pace of the workday. It’s a chance to be me. When I’m at yoga, I’m not a professional. I’m not a busy mother. I am an individual pursuing the beautifully simple goal of connecting to myself and my body.


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The old me would have told you that the notion of connecting to yourself is silly. I may have even said that spending several hours a week practicing yoga is selfish. But the new me, the budding yogi, knows that pushing my body and working toward small goals has given me release from anxiety and tension.

Last weekend I floated on a stand-up paddleboard in the Gulf of Mexico and attempted to do a tripod headstand on the board. I wobbled, tipped, and landed in the warm water with a spectacular splash. When I surfaced, my face to the sun, I laughed. And then I got up and tried it again.

Have you found a practice that helps you relax?

Maria Mora is a single mom, editor, and hockey fanatic. She lives with her two sons in Florida.

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