YOGA TAUGHT ME TO STARE DOWN FEAR
“THE TEARS I SHED LATER THAT DAY WERE SOLELY TEARS OF RELIEF AND JOY AS I WAS FINALLY ABLE TO STARE INTO THE DARKNESS OF FEAR AND VULNERABILITY AND SEE A SILVER OF LIGHT”
As long as I can remember I have always suffered from severe social anxiety. My desire for healing is how I came to find yoga. When I started reading about yoga I was fascinated about the stories of health and healing that so many people experienced. displayed on DVD covers and magazines.
Eventually, I worked up enough courage to attend a class. I stepped onto my mat for the first time and started to move and breathe. I didn’t experience some great epiphany or spiritual healing, I felt awkward and uncomfortable. Still, the next week I came back to class. I just kept going back to that space on my mat that I felt drawn to again and again.
Years later, when the opportunity to attend yoga teacher training presented itself I dove right in both excited and terrified in equal measure. You may be wondering, how does a painfully shy, introvert with social anxiety stand in front of her peers in teacher training and teach? Well she doesn’t, at least not on the typical timeframe of teacher training. My first attempt was nothing short of humiliating, I stood in front of the room filled with my peers and my teachers with my gaze lowered towards my feet as I tried to gather the courage to teach my first Sun Salutation. When I lifted my gaze to the class staring back at me I was unable to stop the tears as they began to flow down my cheeks. Through a shaky voice and tears I taught my first Sun Salutation.
Although my classmates and teachers were unwavering in their support, the emotional breakdown happened again the next time I was called up to teach. So, I elected to do everything required in the training except stand in front of the class to teach. I was so disappointed in myself that I drifted away from my yoga practice.
As time passed, I felt that old familiar pull drawing me back to my practice. The more I dove into my practice the more I felt the anxiety start to fall away. Through my practice I realized that I needed to face my fears and complete my teacher training. When I returned to complete my training I was finally able to stand and teach without emotionally falling apart.
The tears I shed later that day were solely tears of relief and joy as I was finally able to stare into the darkness of fear and vulnerability and see a sliver of light. If you are fortunate enough to find something in this life that speaks directly to your soul, you are a lucky person. Or maybe it’s not luck; maybe it’s your path, your purpose. For me, it is yoga. That’s what I found that speaks directly to my soul. Through yoga I can see a vision that was once hazy. I can see a vision of a life that does not have to be filled with
anxiety and fear.
Although, I still suffer from social anxiety, yoga is teaching how to manage it better. My hope is that others will see that there is a light at the end of that tunnel, that there is hope to manage anxiety and fear. It’s amazing how your perception of life can change when you make the decision to embrace and confront the fear and vulnerability you’ve carried with you for so long. I believe everyone has a path in life and I have found mine through yoga.