Yogis Panic Too!
By: Sarah Shiplett, E-RYT 200
It was this same time last year
I was a yoga teacher who had forgotten how to breathe.
After the Santa Fe High School shooting last year, I started having anxiety attacks. Tension, tightness and tears over an idea I couldn’t rationalize in my mind— that I brought children into a world filled with such hate, evil and literal rage. We fill our yoga classes with philosophy, ethical
disciplines, inspiring tidbits, literally pumping love back into the universe with every word we speak. I hated that there were people out there countering all that love.
I lived in fear of walking with such evil.
Most of the time as teachers we are
n’t seen as regular humans. During my first yoga gig, my boss told me to always make sure I put on a happy face when checking students in and have that aura carry on until the class was over and students had left our space. It’s a business and the aura we put out is extremely important. We are seen as mostly content, sometimes joyful, always peaceful, Earth-loving people making new friends and offering pillars of support and strength for our students. If we came to class crying, eyes puffy and lips quivering unable to speak through the panic, we wouldn’t have any students left to teach!
The big question is…. who is holding sp
ace for us especially when we lose sight and grasp of our own teachings?
Last May, all the yoga tools and life skills I had in my tool belt abandoned me and I was left blubbering and puttering around our home, wondering the fate of myself and my two darling children. For they hadn’t started their journeys in school yet, and I started doing the only thing I knew how.
I cried hard.
I called my mom.
I went to yoga.
When anxiety attacks hit you, you are crippled. It’s painful. It’s sometimes panic. It’s fight or flight. As I write this, I can actually feel the space in my chest where my breath starts and ends. Hello sympathetic nervous system and heart palpitations. Goodbye everything you’ve studied and practiced for nearly a decade.