I struggled with anxiety for several years before I realized that drugs could effectively take away my anxiety and allow me to feel at peace. After years of abusing prescription painkillers and benzodiazepines, I found myself trapped in full-blown drug addiction with my anxiety worse than ever. When I finally chose to go to treatment and get sober, the drugs were out of my system but my anxiety continued to burden me. I was placed in mental health therapy to learn about healthy habits to use to cope with my anxiety. The technique that I found most beneficial in doing this was yoga and meditation.
The first time I tried yoga, I was still experiencing some minor withdrawal symptoms. My muscles were tight and sore and I couldn’t seem to calm the obsessive drug cravings I was having. In the beginning, each pose hurt. I hadn’t worked out in years and I had neglected my physical health while in active addiction. It was a challenge for me to hold these new postures, and I didn’t notice until the end of the session that I didn’t think about getting high the whole time. Once I had stretched out most of my muscles, the aching in my body began to subside and I felt better. I felt stronger and more relaxed at the same time.
Over time, the poses got easier and I began to look forward to doing yoga. It no longer felt like a chore as did other workouts. Yoga is now a part of my daily routine. There is nothing better than waking up in the morning and going to my yoga class because it allows me to start my day off in a healthy way. When I start my day with yoga I have more energy to go through the rest of my day. Today, I am in better physical shape than I have ever been.
At the end of my first yoga session, the instructor walked us through a guided mindful meditation. I was instructed to lay down flat on my mat with my eyes closed and focus on my breath. I inhaled while counting to 5, then exhaled to a count of 7. With each exhale I could feel more and more stress leaving my body. After taking several deep, counting breaths I felt completely at ease. I focused on my instructors voice and nothing else. I was able to slow my thoughts.
Mindful meditation is a coping mechanism that I can use anywhere at anytime when I am experiencing stress or anxiety. Practicing mindfulness allows me to slow my thoughts and focus on the energy in my body rather than the chaos of life that is happening around me. It has given me peace of mind and has helped improve my mental focus.
Other Health Benefits
Yoga and meditation doesn’t only help people in recovery, but it can benefit people of all walks of life. Other health benefits from yoga and meditation include:
- Alleviate chronic pain
- Maintain a healthy heart
- Improve digestion
- Improve sleep
- Treat migraines
- Provide mental clarity
- Increase blood flow
- Strengthen spine
After seeing how yoga and meditation improved my overall well being, I encourage others who want to better their health and relieve stress to give yoga and meditation a shot!
Cassidy Webb is a