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(Posted by) Tammy Williams (Founder of Yoga NRG + Mindfulness Training Australia)
Lessons from the Mat-Kylie Williams

Lying flat with my eyes closed, preparing for yoga practice seems to be magic for most but for me, it was a struggle, an absolute uncomfortable world that felt like it was caving in on me. A whole plethora of bodily sensations flowing from heart palpitations, pins and needles in my fingertips and toes, hyperventilation and an overwhelming urge that I needed to escape. A fear that the twenty or so fellow yogis in class could sensemy unease, erratic breath and could hear me fidgeting, which only made my emotions snowball.

This, unfortunately, is the noisy world of an anxious mind and this, unfortunately, was my life.

The truth behind this all was that it wasn’t only in yoga class where I experienced these uncontrollable episodes but throughout my day-to-day life. As a professional with a corporate career, it is perceived that there is no room for the vulnerability which is why I became so very skilled in hiding my flaws. On the home front, I struggled with the pressure of being the model wife and mother suffering through anxiety fueling
moments like the perfect birthday party or social event. Even though from the outside no one could notice, inside I was coming undone, my life had become one of constant stress and panic that I wished was different.
So after living with such a condition for over half my life and trying everything from breathing practices, exercise, diet, phycologists and even medication I thought that there must be something behind this ancient practice that yogis from 3000B.C. could teach me. Even though I was off to a rocky start, I didn’t realise the future would soon become bright. So, this is where my yoga journey began.

One positive in all this, which some may argue as not a good personality trait, is my stubbornness to not allow anything to beat me. I am not a competitive person but more a persistent one. I believe that knowledge is power and you can never stop learning through life. I continued to attend practice, dared through the hour that felt like forever and slowly but surely something started to shift. I began to let go, it seemed that my anxiety shell that had always cocooned me started to crack. The repetitive flow through
Sun Salutations coupled with Pranayama, from a strong Warrior I, scissoring to a Warrior II with a deep Ujjayi breath slowly chinked and chipped off an outer layer of armor that had been falsely protecting me for what seemed like forever.

This feeling was epic and one I had never experienced in my search to live a better, less anxious life. No fitness workout video or self-help book came close to the shift in my body I experienced through my yoga practice. The life re-alignment I was learning started to dissolve the knots in my stomach, racing thoughts in my head and stress that was playing havoc on my body. It was this feeling of re-gaining control of my life
and it was this that led me down the path of teacher training.

My aim through this journey is to share my experience through teaching in the hope of helping others who suffer the same as I. Severe anxiety and panic is a condition that is increasing in this day and age through the pressure of a world that never switches off. From social media to society itself, our biggest contributor to our anxiety is the pressure we bestow upon ourselves. It seems ironic that the answers we seek to free
ourselves from anxiety and panic are actually within us.

Thinking back to the beginning of my journey many years ago, of where my mind of constant fight or flight had come from, the benefits of yoga had begun to ring true. The day-to-day anxious noise within my mind that once was a crescendo seemed to whither to a light hum. In my career and home, I gained true confidence, following the niyamas for a healthy attitude and connection to a life I am grateful for.

These days, lying flat with my eyes closed, preparing for yoga practice is no longer a struggle but a sanctuary. Where once I felt the twenty or so fellow yogis in class as overwhelming, now I struggle to realise they are even in the room.

There are times when old habits or hinderances attempt to push me back into a flustered state because of the pressures of daily life. Yoga has taught me that these setbacks are nothing but an ordinary part of everyone’s day.
Coupled with an intention, the asanas and breath, you gain healing through savasana which over time I have realised is something that cannot be found through a paperback or a pill but simply with your mind and a mat.

~Kylie Williams Yoga NRG Trainee

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