Yoga was always too slow for me. I could never force myself to slow down enough to engage. Then came a period of darkness. It was long. 6 months of doom gloom anxiety depression hell. I lost sight of who I was.
It was the end of law school and it was time to take the bar exam. It’s all well and good unless you are like me and have extreme test anxiety and GAD. I am a ball of nerves in my resting state, toss a 2-day exam that takes 2 months to study for and having been told for 3 years your life hinges on this, did not do anything to soothe the nerves.
My anxiety hit new levels in this period and as a result, I was not eating or sleeping properly. I turned into a monster. I wasn’t moving as much as my body is used to either. So I started to do 15-minute yoga videos on Youtube to help get some kind of movement in my day.
I took the exam. I had to wait 3 months for the results. I spent every day with my anxiety gnawing away at me thinking I failed the exam. I got worse and worse. My health. My sleep. My mood. My relationships. Everything was imploding because of my own toxic thought cycle. I could not control it.
I started to do longer videos where I had time. Maybe 3 days a week at most. Then I practiced 4 days a week. Then 5. Then 6. Then every day. Some days were short, some were long. But I made it to my mat every day because I found solace in the breath and the movements. I could think of something that was not the exam and how I failed.
My practice started to shift from following videos to freestyle flows when I started to read some books about the practice because I was learning that yoga was MINE. It was something I had control over while still learning and being at the mercy of the universe. I could set goals for myself and watch the improvement.
But all that aside, I kept coming back because I felt better. I started to be happy again, but I didn’t know that because I hadn’t been happy for so long, I forgot what it felt like. It took people close to me commenting on it, for it to sink it. Yoga became my reprieve and I started to find strength, mentally and physically. I was rebuilding from a very genuine place.
Then the results came out.
I knew I had, but nonetheless, I was devasted. I had put so much into this test. I put my mental and physical health on the line in a way that no one should ever risk. But I jumped into my safe place and I breathed and moved through the sadness. It felt like a bad breakup, but with yoga and a couple weeks time I was healing.
I continue to focus on my practice and improving and stretching myself to new limits. I am trying to applying the other legs of yoga to help maintain my positivity. I don’t know if I would be able to share this story that has caused me so much pain without my practice. It gave me the ability to work through it without causing further emotional distress.
I am a major advocate for yoga and mental health, as it has done so much for me. But like anything in life, the practitioner has to be open to the benefits of treatment. It may be easier to teach children, especially those that exhibit symptoms of anxiety disorders, yoga so they have the tools to apply it later in life if they so choose.
I am moving on and using my yoga to learn self-acceptance and understanding. To remind myself that this test does not define me. That I am not a failure because of the test or my anxiety.