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I’ve talked about it many times, last year was the toughest of my life so far.  There were so many stressors that were weighing on my constantly and the they took a physical toll on my body.  

I gained weight, couldn’t sleep, had my skin explode with acne, and even lost my hair.  Yes, that’s right, I actually lost my hair.  One night in November I reached up and touched the crown of my head only to realize there was a bald spot about the size of a quarter.  I’ll save that whole story for another day, but you get the point.

I was stressed out and did not know how to deal with it.

In addition to all of the stressful things that were swirling around me, there was something that was no longer present, and it played a role as well.  

Because I had just left my TV career behind and was starting over on my own, my cash flow wasn’t exactly what it had been.  So, I began looking at all of the ways I could trim my budget.  Do we need to eat out as often?  No.  When I want to see a girlfriend could we hangout with a bottle of wine at someone’s apartment instead of going out?  Yes. Did I need to buy quite so many articles of clothing each month?  Absolutely not.

And since we had a gym in our apartment building, I decidedI did not need a gym or specialty class membership.  That yoga that I loved to do a couple of days each week?  It was now just a luxury I couldn’t afford.

Until it wasn’t.

What I didn’t realize at the time was how much those 60-75minute classes, even just one time a week, were helping me mentally.  I have never been one to say I do yoga for the spiritual effects, I’m always there for a great workout.  But what I know now is that even during those great workouts, my mind was able to check out from everything going on outside that yoga studio.

When Marc and I moved again at the end of last year we no longer had a gym in our building, which was a very good thing for me.  I decided that no matter how much it cost I was going to budget for a gym membership. I did plenty of comparison shopping before selecting out current gym to make sure they had a qualified yoga staff and a variety of classes.

I returned to my yoga mat the first week of January and after just one class I could already feel a difference.  Was everything perfect?  Not even close.  But I was finally giving my mind and body something that was very needed.

Why does yoga work for me? It’s a perfect blend of strength and balance.  None of those poses are easy, and when you commit to going through a flow your mind becomes wrapped up in the execution and the process and doesn’t have time to think about much else.  I also think it is a solid workout.  When I do yoga regularly, I feel more toned, especially in my arms and glutes.

Now, I’m not saying everyone needs to go out and buy a yoga mat and some Lululemon leggings.  I am well aware that yoga is not for everyone. Often it is intimidating and serves as a means to compare yourself to others.

What I am saying is that it is so important to listen to your body and your mind.  What do you need to do to take care of yourself and to relieve stress and anxiety?  It may be a certain diet, or meditation, or reading before bed, or running regularly, or a million other little things.  But once you figure it out, don’t compromise it.

This year my stress level has been more under control.  There are a lot of factors that go into why, not all of them within my control.  But yoga is.  Which is why I’m on my mat at least twice each week when my schedule allows.

What do you do to take care of yourself?  Let me know in the comments below.

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