Getting over Anxiety: Planting Seeds Without Knowing
I spent the majority of my life trying to understand my own depression and anxiety. I knew that when I did certain things (like dance), I was so present in my body and in the moment that it was almost impossible to think about anything else. Who knew that right there I had figured out what was going to cure me? For the majority of my life I had been planing seeds to what I consider the best way to manage stress (and its subsequent health affects) and treat low mood.
I have studied dance since age three and at around age fourteen, I started to suffer from depression and anxiety. Right after I graduated from highschool, I didn’t know that I was planting seeds for my own healing when I walked in to my very first yoga class 13 years ago.
I walked in the studio of my parent’s health club during a summer break after my first year of college. I was studying dance but the gym didn’t offer dance classes (only yoga and Pilates) so I decided that maybe yoga would be a good substitute. Buy yoga was challenging because I didn’t understand it. I was resistent. I felt really limited by the mat. I didn’t understand aspects of it that were ritualistic. And the chanting? Didn’t understand that either. Flowing to music? I just thought it was a lame version of dance. Regardless of what opinion I formed at that time, I was planting seeds.
About 7 years later I walked into the yoga class that would change my life forever. It was an Iyengar class. Finally I was integrating my breath with my movement in a way that didn’t appear to be pretending it was dance. The thing that had the most impact was that I was experiencing the positive physiological, psychological and physical affects that yoga offers and in a very profound way. Again, I was planting seeds.
If someone were to explain what exactly a yoga practice consists of, it may seem a little obvious as to why the practice could reverse depressive symptoms and promote mood stability. Underneath all that stretching is the access to achieve mindful control over your body and emotions. There is a gentle encouragement in yoga that allows us to work with ourselves pretty patiently– with grace and with compassion. Research has shown that there are no significant differences between treating stress and anxiety with yoga when compared to cognitive behavioral therapy. I’ve done both, and I can agree based on my personal experience.
Myself, I have learned that sometimes we find ourselves on a path to finding out something profound and we may resist it even when our health depends on it. While dance was providing present moment experiences for me, it was yoga that was slowly getting me to mitigate my symptoms. Now I have a regular practice of both. I love to study modern dance at ODC and practice yoga at Union Yoga. The SF instructors I practice most with are Tony Eason and Martin Scott.