I attended graduate school at Harvard University in 2001 and 2002. By January of 2002, with the stress of the 9/11 attacks added on to everything else, I was experiencing a debilitating anxiety disorder, an which has now been diagnosed as Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
For the first few months, before the therapy started to really kick in, the only thing that kept me from flying apart at the seams was yoga. The 30 seconds between waking up in the morning to getting into a yoga posture felt like an hour. I don't even know what form I was doing - it was whatever form was taught in the book from the 1970s that I grabbed off my mom's shelf when things started getting ugly over winter break - but it saved my sanity. I had to read the book and study the pictures. I had to think "Where am I supposed to put my leg now?" And then I had to breathe deeply. And count. And then consult the book again. The focus and breathing it required were the only thing that could keep me from focusing on the crazy thoughts in my head. I was virtually non-functional during this period - couldn't do 20 minutes of schoolwork in a day without dissolving into hysteria - but I was ok if I was doing yoga.
I don't do it as much as I should now that the anxiety is under control, but I sincerely don't know how I could have coped with the levels of anxiety I was suffering during that time without this practice.
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