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!


finding yoga everywhere

As part of my full-time job I have to travel quite a bit. Sometimes I am sent to amazing places, like Kona, Hawaii in the summertime, and other times I’m sent to South Dakota in the middle of February when the snow drifts are taller than me. Of course, being the yoga fanatic I am I always try to fit in a yoga class, and these days that is easy to do. Yoga seems to be everywhere. I once spent two weeks in Guatemala and found a wonderful yoga class in the city, Xela. The class was a bit challenging because I don’t speak fluent Spanish but I did my best to follow what everyone else was doing and managed to look only slightly ridiculous.

When I first started these travels, about 11 years ago, I would find a class by asking around. I would go to the local coffee shops and look at their bulletin boards, maybe ask the barista if they had recommendations, and they usually did. Nowadays, finding a class is much simpler with Apps like MindBody that pull up available classes based on your location. I usually look through the options and see which studios have a free first-time student class, or a Community Class where they charge a lower cost, like $5, in hopes that they are making yoga accessible to everyone who is interested.

If I’m traveling with a colleague I always invite them to come take a class with me, and 9 times out of 10 they do, even if they’ve only practiced a few times. If that’s the case then I usually try to find a Beginner’s or level 1 class. Even if the person tells me they’ve been practicing for years I may pick a class that is only moderate. I made the mistake once of taking a colleague to a candlelight Bikram yoga class and she panicked for a few minutes when she got a touch of dizziness halfway through the class. Getting dizzy during yoga sometimes happens, but getting dizzy when you have sweat pouring down your limbs and it’s dark will freak out anyone who isn’t used to it.

Last week, I had to travel to Massachusetts for a conference and decided to stay a couple extra days. I got an Airbnb in Beverly which is about 45 minutes north of Boston. As it turned out, the studio I was renting was over a yoga studio and I was able to get 50% off my class. The place is called HotCore yoga and I enjoyed the class. It was a faster pace than I’m used to for Bikram yoga, but I liked it. The instructor, Peter, had an interesting playlist where he mixed various Police songs (you know, Sting’s band from back in the day) and a variety of other songs that ranged everywhere from Bach to Beyonce to the Spice Girls.

The Airbnb

As convenient as HotCore was I found myself venturing out and between walking the beautiful beaches in the area I found another yoga studio in Gloucester called Treetop that had an afternoon Community Class. The place was packed which I always like. The instructor focused quite a bit on the shoulders and chest, which many of us need because of desk jobs that require us to be crouched over computers most of the day. She also threw in a few poses that not many instructors are confident enough to do, like Warrior 3 and Dancer, which I loved, but thought was ballsy for an All Levels class.

Anyways, I got back home yesterday and am working on what I will instruct for my 3 classes this week. That’s right! In addition to teaching Yin on Tuesdays and Slowburn (Vinyasa) on Wednesdays I am now teaching a Gentle Yoga class on Fridays at Black Tree Yoga Studio. I’m very excited! I also signed up to take a Yoga Wall class this morning and I’m looking forward to hanging upside down in those straps again.


yoga wall

Today I got a chance to try Yoga Wall, which is also known as Iyengar. I had tried it once before a few years ago in Iowa and I remember thinking at the time that I would probably stick with vinyasa, mostly because the instructor was a little intense. Today, however, was amazing.

Yoga Wall is a little hard to explain, but basically you do yoga poses in ropes, which I was assured can hold 1,500 pounds. Doing yoga this way helps the body to open much further than in regular yoga practice. It releases tension from the joints and deeply stretches the entire muscular-skeletal body. It is also good for spine health releasing pressure from compressed vertebral discs.

Yoga Wall stretch

I have to admit, some of the poses were terrifying. There were times when some of the other attendees had to cheer me on as I slowly walked my feet up the wall and turned myself upside down with nothing to support me but the little green strap around my rear. However, once I got into these poses I felt amazing; like a legit gymnast.

If you’re in the Colorado Springs area then you should definitely check out Yoga Studio Satya and take one of their Yoga Wall classes. You’ll love it!