yoga for stress & anxiety

For most of my life I have had to deal with anxiety issues. Growing up I suffered from what I now know is social anxiety, which I have learned many people do, but in the small town in Iowa where I was raised, anxiety was not talked about. In many ways I appreciated growing up in Midwestern culture. The families I grew up around were self-sufficient and hard-working, qualities I hold in high esteem. However, they were not ones to show weakness or “air their dirty laundry,” which basically means they kept their problems to themselves. Needless to say, this made it hard to suffer with anything that could be equated with mental illness and seek help, unless that help came from a beer can or liquor bottle.

Drinking seemed to be the main way I would see people deal with any kind of stress or anxiety. It almost seemed like an expectation that after a hard day or week that you’d better saddle yourself up on a bar stool and hit those Busch Lights until you could barely see straight. Of course, I followed suit and spent many nights (and sometimes days) managing many of my worries with a cocktail or five. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I started to learn there were other ways I could deal with my stress or anxiety that were not only healthier, they also were much more effective.

Of course, yoga was one of the things I found that helped me truly relax and calm my nervous system. Now that I’m teaching my own classes I often find students have sought yoga for the same reasons. It’s not just about the physical workout, but about how you feel mentally and emotionally. That’s why I often incorporate poses that focus on areas of the body where we tend to store stress, like our hips and shoulders. I also include instruction on meditation so students can learn another way to quiet and still the mind.

With the growing interest around how yoga can be used to manage stress and anxiety I decided to host a workshop on this topic next month. On May 5th, from 1:00-4:00 pm at the Black Tree Yoga Center I will be leading students through Pranayama (breathing), Yin Yoga, Meditation and Yoga Nidra (Yogic Sleep). Students will leave the workshop with tools to assist in awreness of the mind/body connection and to help self-regulate these felings and emotions that come up during daily life. For information on how you can sign up for this session, contact Heather Boucher at If you want to talk more about stress and anxiety please feel free to e-mail me at

Take care!


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