You’re Gonna Wish You did Yoga

Lanie Malone, Staff Writer

Yoga is the ancient practice of mixing aerobics, spiritual guidance/meditation and stretching to create a highly therapeutic way to strengthen your mind and body. Without it, I wouldn’t have had the resources to smoothen out my emotions toward this transition from living in Austin to living in Azle.

I had gone to yoga classes in the past, but it hadn’t really clicked for me until I needed it most. My grandmother has been doing yoga since its initial emergence in the early 80’s. Yoga opened a door for me I never knew existed. As soon as I frequented the practice, I became more flexible, less anxious, and more in sync with the world and its possibilities. I began to realize how much influence I had over the world around me and my attitude toward it.

For me, the difference between the yoga classes that worked for me and the ones that didn’t was my vulnerability. My willingness to open up had increased after talking myself through past depression. I had been to a lot of therapy and knew that letting myself be genuine made me feel good about myself.

My classes lasted about 45 minutes and I attended practice three times a week. My grandmother and I would show up a few minutes early to stretch. The first thing I noticed upon arriving to my first class was the feeling I got when I entered the room. There was calming music droning softly. Light poured in from a huge window that took up an entire wall. Incense burned in the corner of the room, the smell reminding me of a church.

The teacher of the first class I attended, Gabby, was an amazing teacher. She was amazing at creating visuals that one could follow without actually looking at her. Her voice was low and relaxing. She called out pose after pose and directed our breathing, saying things like, “Breathe in, breathe out.” and focused on explaining how our breathing could relieve pain or soreness from an area of the body being stretched. She showed us many different techniques of breath to be used as a grounding tool and anxiety relief.

When time was nearly up, she would have us wind down and get into meditation positions. The goal of meditation is simple: breathe in negative emotions and release them breathing out. Thinking about nothing but how grateful you are to have attended class and worked on your body. I would find myself in a strange half-dream, half-awake state of mind where I only focused on how limber I felt after stretching and how joyful it felt to be completely calm. By the end of the class, I felt what they call a ‘yoga buzz’, feeling lightweight and docile.

Over time, I became more flexible and gained a further understanding of how to calm myself down, to reach my Shavasana place. I was less irritable and when something unfortunate happened to me, I felt like I had taken the wheel in my life, able to control the way I reacted to things. I stopped feeling like my emotions ruled my thoughts. Instead, I observed things happening around me but I could detach myself from negative events and figure out how to learn from them.

Just because yoga didn’t work for me years ago I am glad I never gave up. Yoga doesn’t discriminate; you don’t have to be flexible or coordinated or graceful. My grandmother convinced me that if you allow yourself to feel silly while doing the poses and attempt to focus on the practice, believing in its power to help you feel more relaxed, one may be pleasantly surprised in how much more at peace they will feel.