It is no surprise that I have issues with anxiety. Sometimes it pops up in my body for no logical reason, at at least nothing I can put my finger on. It can make my heart pound and make me feel like the sky is falling, when in fact nothing of notice has happened around me. Other times, I know why I am anxious but still feel powerless on managing it. I call this ‘reasonable’ anxiety as they are times when I have to go somewhere new, or meet with people or do something I am not confident about. All these things can make my stomach churn and my head hurt. I call them reasonable because pretty much anyone I have ever talked to will say that these things cause some degree of anxiety, it’s a normal response. However the degree to which these are felt in our bodies can vary greatly and for someone like me, they can be overwhelming. Sometimes my body is just letting me know that it is not something I want to be doing and therefore I may choose not to. However, when it is something I actually want or simply really need to do, there is a very simple solution (simple does not mean easy) and it has to do with asking questions and getting answers.
For example, I have enjoyed yoga classes since I was a teenager. I used to sign up for classes wherever I lived and whenever my budget allowed. However, I had not been to a class for the last 5 years until very recently. I had told myself it was because I could practice it at home, I didn’t need a class, they are expensive etc. But deep down I knew that I would enjoy a class if I could just find the right one, but just that thought stressed me out. So I took baby steps. I first thought about what it was about classes that I liked, which ones I had liked most and what was it that they had in common? Then I went looking online for places near me that seemed to match with my ideal. There were a few, but one stood out as I had met the owner at other events in the past. She seemed friendly and approachable (things that are important to me as a yoga teacher) so I emailed her. I decided to tell her straight away that I was anxious about starting a new class and that in order to make me feel more comfortable I had some questions. Things like where do I park? Where/when do we go in? What do I need to bring? Simple stuff really, but things that would ease my mind and help get me out the door on the first day. She promptly replied in detail so I had a good picture of what to expect. There was no tone of ‘why the heck are you asking me these silly questions?’ as I had imagined. So I immediately signed up.
On the first day, I arrived incredibly early (not knowing exactly how long the drive would take me) and I went to the wrong door (the studio is part of her home). Again, she didn’t laugh or make a big deal, and I didn’t freak out. I felt confident that she was not out to judge or ridicule me, which now that I look back was the main question I was indirectly asking in my first email. It is important for me to feel that if I am going to spend time and energy on doing something new, I need to feel safe. So although I was reasonably anxious that first day, it was a normal response to the situation and I was able to enjoy the class.
Had I not asked the questions, and she not so graciously answered them, I would not likely have shown up at all. Now I go twice a week and feel like I’ve expanded my circle just a little bit wider (which is a current goal of mine). So now, whenever possible, I am asking more questions (to myself and others) and I am happy to report it really can help ease anxiety.
*In case you are in the east end of Ottawa Ontario and looking for a great yoga studio, I recommend connecting with Jackie Leduc (and asking her your questions).