For years, I ran away from the shadows.The dark, dreary, nihilistic recesses of my brain. I fought them with alcohol, women, and marijuana. I laughed at people who were voraciously consumed by the shadows, calling them weak and emotional. On June 22nd, 2015, that was no longer the case. The shadows had won.The day I had my panic attack began horribly. I woke up tired and angry, from an argument I had at work a day prior. I rushed my morning routine. I HATE to rush myself in the morning, because I’m not a morning person. I rushed out of my apartment, because I had to sprint to the subway. On a normal day, I walk the mile and a half to the subway in fifteen minutes. That wasn’t happening on this Sunday. I had to make the subway in 12 minutes or less. So, I yell at my roommate, and tell him to hurry. Then we both sprint to the subway, and we barely make it pass the turnstile, before we hear the train squeal onto the platform.
My stomach was unsettled the whole ride into W. Oakland station. I was nervous and sweaty before I heard the “THREAT”. “ If y’all don’t hurry up and let me off this train, I’m going to shoot someone”. Normally, I’d ignore the homeless and clinically insane, but my nerves had enough. My journey to this station, from the east coast to Oakland, began with anger and a broken heart. My friends betrayed me, my ex-girlfriend abandoned me, and my mom told me I was hopeless. These thoughts ran through my head, while I was waiting for the “THREAT to be arrested. Thirty long minutes passed before the train moved. Too late. It was panic attack time. My right hand began shaking and I couldn’t stop it. I felt sweaty, clammy and very small. I couldn’t control my thoughts, and my breathes were very shallow. My roommate looked at me with concern and said, “ You should call out of work, you don’t look so well.”I never made it to work. I spent that Sunday in an ephemeral state. I was either sleeping, or daydreaming. While I was dreaming, I had a dream about my future in San Francisco. In the dream, I was sluggish, barely spoke above a whisper, and looked frightened. My dreams brought me to the West Coast. So, after the nightmare, I knew I had to leave. It took three months, but I left the Bay Area. I was unceremoniously fired from my San Francisco job. My boss said that I wasn’t “performing up to their standards”, which was a bunch of Paul Bunyan like fables. I happily took my severance, and never looked back.
Yoga saved my life. For months after I left San Francisco, I couldn’t turn “IT” off. Do you know what I’m referring to? I’m referring to the little small voice that second guesses all of your non-essential decisions. “It” is the little small voice that is referred to in the BIBLE. Somehow, after the panic attack, I couldn’t get my head out of “analog” mode, and into “High Definition”. For instance, I’d have a small dispute with someone, and for the rest of that day, my nerves would be on alert . I tried napping, exercising and supplements. None of those methods worked. The only thing that worked, was Yoga, and I discovered this through divine providence.My mom and I were discussing her sciatica, and she mentioned how Yoga relieved her pain. That was enough for me. I immediately started googling and researching yoga articles like a failing college student. I had one problem though, I was afraid to try Yoga. I pride myself on not having fear, but the panic attack changed that. Nonetheless, I forced myself to try my first pose,”Boat Pose”. It wasn’t hard to get my legs folded into my abdomen, or for me to balance on my “sitting bones”. Once ,I got the form correct, I felt like my soul was baptized and kissed by the “divine”. I no longer had nightmares, anxiety, or emotional outbursts. Subsequently, I’ve tried to learn a new yoga pose, or asana, every two weeks.
Yoga is about meditating, balance and finding your “center”. If you can’t focus your thoughts and breathing, then you can’t maintain a pose. For years, I was able to focus on my goals with laser-like precision. It didn’t matter what was going on around me. However, I stopped dealing with my emotional side. My panic attack was the result of living a lie. In San Francisco, they wouldn’t let me be my jovial,flirtatious,bombastic self. Instead,I would withdraw, and ” neuter” my personality. It didnt help that I hate passive aggressive behavior, and that’s how they handle adversity over there.
Here is my morning yoga routine: Triangle Pose or Trikonasana, Cat/Cow Pose or Bitilasana , Bound Angle Pose or Baddha Konasana , Bridge Pose or Setubandha-sarvāṅgāsana; and finally, Half Lord of the Fishes pose or Matsyendrasana.
Thanks for reading. Namaste.