Overcoming Anxiety with Yoga

I couldn’t believe my diagnosis ……

The psychiatrist looked at me in the face and said, “I believe it’s in your head.”

“What?” I said. I thought to myself. Does he think I’m lying? Is he telling me I’m crazy?

I had suffered for almost 2 years from chronic back pain. Everyone referred to it as “The Spot.” We could tell if The Spot was bugging me by my constant twitching.

It became unbearable affecting my quality of life. I couldn’t sit still. Not for a movie, not to work, or even lay down to go to bed.

I decided to do something about it. I did everything from acupuncture, cupping, massage, exercise, injections, physical therapy, and finally psychotherapy.

The doctor went on as if he could read my face, “You have anxiety.”

“Huh?” I said. “What’s that?”

I was in my mid 20’s. I didn’t know what anxiety was.

He continued.

“Anxiety is a reaction to stress. It can cause muscle tension and pain, which I believe is what is causing this.”

I knew I was frustrated with my job at the time. I felt stuck. I was unhappy with my body because I was carrying extra weight. My love life was uneventful and I attributed that to my weight gain. I was in debt running up my credit cards on the weekends at nightclubs & restaurants.

I felt like I had no control.

“It’s chronic stress that’s causing your anxiety.” He said.

Although I didn’t “feel” anxious, I knew I could be intense. A worrier. My mind was constantly running stories. Busy was all I knew.   I had a hard time feeling discomfort and used food, alcohol, shopping or even men to feel better. I was sensitive. Emotional. And yes….dramatic at times. Fear was at the root of my problems.

Now they were handing me a pill.


I’d never been on medication before. I was always an upbeat and happy person. Was this really for me? Did I really have anxiety?

Looking back with the knowledge that I have now of mind & body, I was suffering from Chronic Stress. Food cravings, binge drinking, overeating, back pain, low motivation/energy, and weight gain were all symptoms of my body screaming for attention.

Exercise helped. Dance motivated me but I was still anxious. I still didn’t know how to listen to my body.

“In the sixth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, which is the most important authority on Yoga philosophy, Sri Krishna explains the meaning of Yoga as a deliverance from contact with pain and sorrow. “ – B.K.S. Iyengar

Before I started practicing Yoga, my mind was restless. I was hard on myself. I never felt like I did enough. I took it out on my body. I abused myself.

“When the restless of the mind, intellect and self is stilled through the practice of Yoga, the yogi by the grace of the Spirit within himself finds fulfillment. Then he knows the joy eternal which is beyond the pale of the senses which his reason cannot grasp. He abides in this reality and moves not therefrom. He has found the treasure above all others. There is a nothing higher than this. He who has achieved it, shall not be moved by the greatest sorrow. This is the real meaning of Yoga – a deliverance from contact with pain & sorrow.” – Bhagavad Gita

Emotion is energy in motion. I was always sensitive. Emotional. I didn’t have real coping skills to process my emotions. I didn’t know that it was my perception to my reality that was inflicting such intense reactions.

Yoga taught me how to manage my energy. I learned how to control my emotions and shift my perception from victim to victor.

I never thought Yoga would be for me. I loved to dance and move, but sit still and hold postures…forget about it.

Now I understand.

The breath.

In Yoga, we learn how to control our physiology through the breath. The postures act to release stored energy, build strength, and keep the body healthy. This all happens in alignment with the breath.

When we are stressed, our breath becomes shallow. Our sympathetic nervous system is active and basically puts the body into fight or flight mode. This shuts down other energy systems like digestion and immunity. Notice if you’re over worked, you may tend to get sick?   Eat too fast and you may overeat?

We are inundated with multiple stressors and distractions today. It’s easy to get wrapped up in it. The pressure to make more money, be thinner, have more cars, bigger homes, etc, etc. Everyone wants more of us and it’s easy to give and give.

Until we break down.

Learning how to use your breath to center and ease the mind is powerful. It activates the parasympathetic system which tells your body to rest and digest.   You guessed it. Exactly where you want your body to be when you’re eating or recovering from any kind of work. It provides the energy for your metabolism to function for optimal energy.

Yoga is an opportunity to learn, heal, and love yourself. It’s a path to freedom as it releases us from our restless minds and empowers us to follow our truth.

I haven’t been on any prescription medications in years. I just don’t need them anymore. When “The Spot” starts to feel uncomfortable, I know how to care for it and within an hour it’s gone. Fear no longer controls me.

Discover your Path to Freedom & Self-Love in my upcoming 8 week Yoga Journey.  We start October 10th will live classes in Brentwood.  email deirdra.g.martinez@gmail.com to get more information.








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