Beginning My Yoga Journey by Linda Anderson

My journey started with an MRI. A routine medical test that I had been through at least a dozen times before. But this time, in the middle of the procedure, in that little space of the MRI machine, I had a panic attack. Whoa...where did that come from?

Unfortunately, this was just the beginning of a multitude of changes within myself. The panic attack was joined by uncontrollable stress and worry, over caring for a sick child, caring for aging parents, over symptoms of menopause, financial stress...the list could go on and on. My mental health was taking a beating.

I started reading everything I could to help "fix" my life. Why was peace and happiness so elusive? One idea for stress reduction that kept surfacing was practicing yoga. I had never done this before, but I thought, what did I really have to lose?

The first yoga class I took was with a friend at the Y. It turned out to be too fast paced for me, but the intent of calmness spoke to me. I truly felt yoga was right for me, but I needed a different environment. I searched the Internet, and came across "You Call This Yoga". I could participate in a gentle mat yoga class, near my home, that was free. I asked and the universe answered.

From the very first class with Howie, I felt welcome. I felt able to work at my own pace. I felt a time and space where I could quiet my mind, feel safe, and gently introduce myself to the wonders of yoga. And I am awed by the changes yoga has brought to my life, physically, mentally and spiritually, in less than six months of classes.

It is difficult to articulate what these changes are; they are subtle but very real. I am sure there are lots of things going on biochemically with endorphins and serotonin and cortisol and such, that lend itself to my "feel good" state during and after yoga. I have noticed increased core strength and stability. I have a better awareness of my body, and have learned breathing techniques and relaxation poses to help reduce my stress. I sleep better. I feel the intent of compassion during yoga class, and I try to reflect this compassion back to others as I go about my day.

And yet, like many people, I struggle to find time to take care of myself. But I am seeing a shift in my thinking. A change that says this is important. A change that says yoga will improve the quality of my life. I see myself carving out time for my yoga practice. And I continue to be so very grateful.