For those of brave people out there that live with stress & anxiety on a daily basis I wanted to share my story with you in the hope that you do not feel alone. As many of you might already know I started attending yoga at Heart Space 3 years ago because my boyfriend made me!
I was suffering from crippling headaches and back pain stemming from a competitive swimming injury that meant I couldn’t sit down for longer than 5 minutes without experiencing shooting pain in my legs and back. This particular day my neck had gone into spasm for the hundredth time; I couldn’t drive, sit or walk without experiencing shooting pain that would render me incapable of moving for several minutes.
I finally dragged myself to the doctors and was promptly prescribed some seriously heavy duty pain killers. As I walked out of the office after less than 3 minutes something didn’t feel right, we hadn’t discussed any treatment options or what might be causing my ongoing issue, but I had been given pain pills, then my neck started pulses with pain and I panicked.
Forrest yoga has since taught me that we cannot expect to make our best decisions when we are in fight or flight mode but at the time I didn’t have the tools to make a better choice, out of sheer desperation I filled my prescription took the recommended dose and went for a lie-down. I fell asleep for over 12 hours! When I woke I felt worse than ever, completely numb inside, was this what my life would be like, taking pills to keep pain at bay but in return numbing everything else out, I would be completely dependent on medication to help me function throughout the day.
I was so low, and scared I started to cry, I cried for the fact that I would never be ‘normal’ again, I cried because chronic pain had turned me into someone I didn’t recognise twisted by fear and physical exhaustion and finally I cried because I felt I was at a dead end.
It was literally with tears streaking down my face then that I first walked into Heart Space, my boyfriend pushing me in the door because I was so afraid of what I had become that I ‘knew that yoga wouldn’t work because nothing else had.’
What does this have to do with stress and anxiety you might ask? Well that neck and back pain along with the headaches that I mentioned earlier were I was to discover the physical manifestations of the stress and anxiety bottled up in my muscles and joints over the course of years and years.
My body was screaming for me to do something good for my mind but the only tools I had at the time had been to self-protect and numb out against everything. As Yoga started to unwind the physical effects on my body I started to felt brief glimmers of pain-free moments. I actually began to wonder what life would be like if it was not simply one long endurance race, what if I actually enjoyed it!!
Ironically this I where I actually started to struggle, Finlay would ask us to do things in class like, ‘Breathe into whatever feelings are bubbling up for you’ and I would think ‘F**k that’, if I start to feel that will be very inconvenient, I might start to crying in front of people, god forbid that happen, because at that time in my life I genuinely believed that if started to cry I would never be able to stop.
However I was to learn that Forrest Yoga has the amazing power to connect the emotional and the physical aspects of yourself, one cannot heal without the other. I was slowly but surely healing my body, but there was still a backlog of emotions that needed to be cleared out. So eventually I did allow myself permission to cry and cry and cry it was deeply uncomfortable at the time, but you know what it was the best thing I could have ever done for myself.
Forrest yoga gave me permission to feel my own pain when I couldn’t. That’s the gift that it keeps giving to me. When my own self-care is lacking for whatever reason
Forrest yoga provides me with that courage to do a really loud lion in class when normally I would die inside with embarrassment. So when that Horrible familiar feeling of anxiety starts to settle over me and I start avoiding people’s eyes as if I can become invisible or perhaps the most damaging when some you care about asks how you are and you respond with ‘I’m fine’ when you are really dying inside. I know I have my box of Forrest yoga tools I can return to.
This creeping feeling settled over me the last month work was piling up I was working 12-13 hour days , not seeing my family and friends , not spending time with my beloved Huskies and especially not practising yoga.
I made the mistake of believing that yoga was a luxury for me when really it is as essential as slept, food and water. I paid the price for this flawed thinking as anyone with anxiety will recognise that creeping feeling that comes over you and it all feels too much, even being asked what you would like for dinner is enough to set it off and that’s where I went.
However Forrest yoga is my way out of that fog, I need it in my life to function the way I deserve to. I challenge you to take really deep breathe, look within and make Forrest yoga part of your self-care I promise you, that you will not regret it.