When it comes to wellness, I love to sharing the wisdom of others. From learning to use ACV as a replacement for conditioner, to reading raves about honey as a face wash, to discussions of naturopathic and other alternative healthcare methods, to the beautiful benefits of yoga and meditation, there is so much out there we can all benefit from. So with that, I am thrilled that Lisa of EcoYogini is sharing her story of how yoga came into her life…and ultimately changed it for the better.
I am a high-strung, highly sensitive, type A person at heart. I’ve had health problems my entire life due to internalizing stress and emotional upheaval. I dealt with it by sucking it up, avoiding eating out and winding myself up like a top. I just couldn’t get past the cerebral aspect of my stress.
I specifically remember months in my undergrad where, instead of finding a way to pre-emptively manage my stress, I would grin and bear it until I’d get to the point where I’d drink Revs just to get my stomach back to moving. (tmi, I know…). A trip to the emergency during my master’s (guess my stomach doesn’t like grains, who knew?) was the wake up call… even if it didn’t feel like it at the time.
That year I discovered yoga. Really, it was because a friend of mine was completely into it and well, I wanted to be like her. Strong, thin and bendy as hell. And confident. Although, 8 years later, yoga didn’t take me as far as it did her (she’s now an instructor), and it’s definitely not the cure-all I originally believed, it was the catalyst in my discovery of the mind-body connection.
I now know that yoga will never make me bendy or confident but it sure can make me strong and it is one of THE best ways to manage my stress.
All of my symptoms are physically based (IBS, hives, stress headaches, weight loss) but I just couldn’t get out of my own head to let all the emotional crap and tension go. I also didn’t feel in control of my own body- it was rebelling all over the place. It just wasn’t LISTENING to what my brain was telling it to do. Feeling out of control for a control freak isn’t ideal.
What yoga gives me, that other physical activities don’t, is a specific focus on my body and breath work.
During the practice I’m constantly asked to analyze how each posture, movement and breath feels: emotionally and physically. I now know, as part of my job, that the breath is an essential aspect of stress management and communication. Learning calming breath work in stressful situations (such as holding a challenging posture for long periods of time) is like magic. I was finally in control of my body, or more accurately, my body is now an essential part of ME as opposed to something ‘other’ I need to control.
Honestly, I was shocked that yoga actually worked. It just appeared too ‘foofoo’ for me. Yoga did, however, open the door for, cautious, exploration of other possible alternative medicine treatments. Such as peppermint tea replacing the pepto I would drink straight from the bottle. Or considering removing all electronic appliances from my bedroom to encourage better sleep. Or a daily dose of cathartic singing.
I rarely practice yoga in a studio. I also don’t keep to a daily routine, instead I might choose to sing and play my guitar if that is to be my self-care for the night.
Yoga and ayurvedic medicine (yoga’s sister science) has in no way become the ‘end all’ for all my health woes. I am a strong believer that yoga is NOT for everyone. I’m ok with that. The important part is to find something that will work for you and take a moment to reconnect with your self and body.
Like reading Lisa’s guest post? Want to learn more about her yoga practice and check out her blog? Click here!