Yoga calms my anxious mind

by Amy Renee
Yoga calms my anxious mind

As many of you may already know from my posts here and on Instagram, I’m currently working toward my 200RYT accreditation via YogaWorks Teacher Training. One of the required elements prior to graduating is that I attend 16 classes at any of the YogaWorks studios – 8 classes led by one of my two teacher trainers and 8 led by other YogaWorks teacher trainers. It’s such a blessing to have the opportunity to learn from the best. But when anxiety hits…

The mind is everything. What you think you become.



One day last week I decided to give one of the classes at the Brentwood studio a try. One of the teacher trainers was leading a morning class and my trainer pointed out that this particular teacher wrote the majority of our anatomy manual. He said that if we had the opportunity to attend one of her classes we should. And there she was, on the Brentwood schedule. Great!

The Brentwood location is only about 6 miles from my apartment, but this is Los Angeles. Anyone who lives here or has even visited knows that it takes about an hour to drive 6 miles – way longer during rush hour. So I planned accordingly and left early enough so that I would have time to figure out the parking situation, get to class early, set up my stuff like a good little student…

Do things ever go as planned? Ha ha ha. It seems like the answer to this question is a big, bold NO if you’re someone who suffers from anxiety. So, um – a look into my anxious mind:

My GPS app took me to the parking garage with no problems. I looked at the clock on my dashboard: 15 minutes before class start. Perfect. I got my ticket, parked my car, carried all of my stuff (yoga mat, blocks, water, sign in sheet for the teacher training requirement and pen) and headed toward the elevators. The elevators weren’t coming. And weren’t coming. What the hell? I looked at my phone. Class start time was in ten minutes now. I knew I would have to pee before. And how long would it take to check in since I’ve never been to this studio? Would it be longer?

After what seemed like WAY TOO LONG I decided to take the stairs to the floor level. I started to run toward the entrance. More elevators. But I knew that the YogaWorks was suite 101. I remembered from when I looked on the website. I ran down the hallway. Nothing. Only a pharmacy. I asked the lady in the pharmacy. She had no idea what YogaWorks was. Really? And she’s in the same building? Then I panicked more. What if I was in the wrong building? What if my GPS took me to a different parking garage somehow. Why didn’t I look for the YogaWorks on the outside of the building before I turned toward the garage? Why wasn’t I more observant?

I saw stairs and decided to go up a floor to see if level one was maybe on another floor. I ran into a janitor and asked him if he knew where suite 101 would be. He didn’t seem to know any more than I did. I looked at my phone. Five minutes. I saw a door that led to outside. I ran out to see if I could see the entrance to YogaWorks. Nope. Nothing.

Now in full on panic mode my breath started to become short and shallow, I was sweating, and anger was building. I looked at my phone again. Class was starting. Somewhere. That I had no idea. FU*K!!!

I missed the class. I was pissed. I drove all that way in all that traffic and seriously? How stupid is it that I couldn’t find the dumb studio? What is wrong with me? I stomped back toward the parking garage and put in my parking ticket. Surely it wouldn’t cost anything since I was running around for just 15 minutes. Wrong. Three bucks. For nothing. Gah. Annoyed, I dropped my yoga blocks and bag so that I could reach for my debit card to pay the stupid fee. Then I stomped back to my car in a very un-yoga-like way feeling like my head was going to pop off.

Once I was back in my car I very angrily (again, un-yoga-like) texted my boyfriend that I had just ‘completely missed the class and wasted all that time’ in an anxious ramble of spell checked curse words. I sat there in my car for a moment, closed my eyes and tried to just breath. I checked the schedule to see if there were any classes in the near future that I could catch (if I could find the damn studio) since I very obviously needed some yoga. There was! Great! Finally something good.

I exited the parking garage and figured I could find a Starbucks and do some reading while I waited for time to pass before the next class. But then I thought, there’s a coffee shop (not Starbucks, but whatever) in the building I was just in. Maybe I could just find street parking and go hang there to make sure I wasn’t late for the next class.

Go figure. I had to pick the one day of the week that was street sweeping day. NO PARKING ANYWHERE!!! After driving around in circles for about 30 minutes I finally decided that my original plan of finding a Starbucks was my best option. After finding one nearby on San Vicente Boulevard I set off. But…parking. Ugh. PARKING. I drove around in circles. Annoyed. Traffic. Anxiety.

Finally I noticed some curb on a side street that didn’t have red paint on it. YES! I started to parallel park as other anxious drivers honked angrily at me. I tried to ignore them and just kept parking. No way was I going to give in to their pushiness and lose my spot.

After parking it felt good to get out of the car and stretch my legs. I took my Yoga Sutras book and started walking. I thought to myself how badly I needed yoga today and tried to crack a smile as I looked down at my Yoga Sutras book, knowing I was not acting like the person I want to be.

Turning the wrong way on San Vicente I entered a shopping plaza assuming the coffee shop would be somewhere inside. It wasn’t. Up the escalator, down, up, down. What the hell??? I finally decided to search for it on my phone GPS. That’s when I realized I had made a wrong turn and saw the stand-alone Starbucks building right there on the corner. How did I miss it? When I went inside there were only two people in line. Good I thought. I’ll get my latte quick so I can go chill and finally stop being so prickly. But…HOLY MOTHER OF GOD it was like I was at the training center for new Starbucks employees who are on the quest to be the slowest baristas in the World. Okay. So maybe they weren’t that slow. My anxious mind might have had something to do with the fact that I was totally impatient and noticing the bad rather than the good in every. single. thing.

Coffee in hand I looked at my phone. No time to sit in read. I had just enough time to get back in my car and head back to the studio. Ha. What a joke. Oh well. At least I had a coffee. And at least I was able to pee in Starbucks since I was about to explode. And now it was almost 12 and street sweeping would be over so I’d have a better chance at snagging a street parking spot. When I was driving around after missing my first class I saw where the YogaWorks was (duh) and I didn’t want to have to park in the garage and go through the almighty abyss I had been in from the building. If I parked on the street I could just enter from the outside entrance and not have to worry about any confusion.

I DID find a spot on the street. Yay! Things were looking up. I walked to the studio and checked in at the front desk. Perfect time to go to the bathroom, set up my mat and just breathe for a few minutes before class start. Relax. Close eyes. Ground down. Slow the breath. Child’s pose.

MOOD 180

Class ended up being fantastic. It was well worth the wait. I set my intention at the beginning of class: Please God, help me be more aware of the important things in life so that I don’t get so anxious about the little things that don’t even really matter. Let me be better at being the person I want to be. My mantra that I repeated to myself throughout the class was, “I am grounded, I am strong, I can find peace anywhere.”

Just writing this brings tears to my eyes. Yoga is so powerful. My practice is so incredibly beneficial to me and my anxious mind. I always try to focus during my practice. I am very serious about this. I don’t like to break my focus if I can manage not to. I’ve joked before that I probably have “resting bitch face” during my practice and don’t look very yogi-like, but for me it’s a moving meditation and I find peace in that. I do however find my mind wandering. When it does I start to concentrate on my breath and repeat my mantra to myself in my head.

Here are some of the things I thought about during that practice. As I was leaving to head to Starbucks there were a couple of people begging for money at the intersection. Amidst my anxiety I wondered if they were actually homeless or just making money by asking for it. During my practice though I felt compassion. It’s not my place to judge. I need to have more compassion. I don’t know what these people have been through, what their lives are like. Then I started to think about the slow employees at Starbucks. Maybe they were new. Maybe they had other things going on that I didn’t know about. Why didn’t I have more compassion for them? Then I started to think about how fortunate I am. How lucky I am to be in one of the best yoga teacher training programs in the country and with two of the most amazing teachers I’ve ever had. I am so grateful! And to have the opportunity to take any class I want at any YogaWorks studio in these three months during my training. To be able to BE in THIS teacher training program. To have the physical ability to do yoga. To have the opportunity to do what I love and help others in the process. To be able to live in this gorgeous part of the world. To be able to afford that expensive Starbucks coffee. To have a car to drive in this horrendous traffic – ha ha. I am so grateful for all these things and so much more. When I remember to just pause, breathe, and remember for the things I am grateful for – big and small – THIS is yoga. This is what makes me relax, let go of my anxiety and allow freedom, SPACE in my life for better things. Happiness, enjoyment, contentment…

In the short 50 minutes that I spent in that class that day my mood went from totally terrible to gorgeously grateful. I got teary eyed as I lied in Savasana thinking about how powerful this practice is. I can’t wait to share it with others.

You may also like