People do yoga for many reasons. For Ellery Lawry, yoga provided the grounding she needed in a new town.
Breathe in. Close your eyes. Set an intention for your practice. Keep this intention in mind as you flow through your poses. If you find yourself struggling, if you find yourself hurting, if you find yourself unable to focus, come back to this. Come back to your intention. Breathe out.
I’ve spent a lot of time in my life trying to clear my mind. Since my freshman year of college, I’ve struggled with mental illness. I have depression and anxiety. Both of these lead to my mind being frequently clouded with worry and negativity.
When seeking help, I learned a lot about how to combat these thoughts. In therapy, you’re taught not to worry so much about things that are out of your control. I found myself often being bogged down about worries about my future, about money, about if people liked me. With the help of my counselor, I was able to better combat these thoughts.
She taught me to let go of things I can’t control. I learned to remind myself of the fact that I can’t answer many of my concerns right now and it’s not worth worrying over. I learned to believe people when they tell me things or recognize their actions as genuine.
If my mind started to cloud, I was able to focus and clear my head with these skills.
Practicing mindfulness is part of any meaningful yoga experience. The discipline encourages being in the moment. Focus on where you are, listen to your body, and breathe. Practicing yoga means letting go. While doing yoga, you clear your mind and concentrate on grounding yourself and exercising your body. If you find yourself letting thoughts slip back in, you return to your mantra. You breathe in. You breathe out.
When I first looked into yoga, I was mostly interested in it as physical exercise. I’d had friends who enjoyed yoga for its spiritual and mental benefits, but I didn’t go to a yoga class hoping for those. I wanted a fun exercise and to hopefully meet a couple people in a city I’m new to.
After my first yoga class, I felt lighter. I was so relaxed. My mind was calm. Spending an hour focusing on my body and my breath while quieting my thoughts soothed me. I went home feeling refreshed and loose. I felt stable. My worries and doubts and concerns had been let go for the night.
I now find myself looking forward to my class every week. I’m always happy to see my instructor and my fellow classmates. I’m ready to continue my journey of balancing and strengthening my body and my mind.
And I find myself setting intentions for myself in my daily life. I take a moment to clear my mind when things are overwhelming. I am more gracious and kind to myself. If I’ve hit a bump and am faced with difficulty, I don’t panic. I stop and clear my mind. I breathe in. I breathe out.