Practicing Yoga and Meditation for Anxiety
I came to yoga and meditation when I was about 19 years old. I was a freshman at UCLA and seemingly out of nowhere began having severe, crippling anxiety attacks. I couldn't go into loud places. I couldn't be in restaurants; I couldn't go to parties. It was almost like I became agoraphobic. I was afraid to go out because at any point in time, one of these attacks could come over me, and I’d feel like I was going to faint or throw up.
I was so crippled by this experience that I called my mom and asked for advice. I didn’t want to start off by going to a Western doctor, because my father had been medicated for anxiety his entire life. There is, of course, a time and a place for medication. There's a reason that it exists. But I knew for myself, I wanted to try some holistic approaches first before going that route. My mother knew that I had meditated when I was younger, and so she suggested that I take a meditation practice back up and go to yoga.
I grew up completely unathletic -- I was the least athletic person on the face of the planet. When I first started going to yoga, I was really scared. I thought that it would be like a dance class where everyone but me knew the steps and I’d humiliate myself and hold the class up. I thought I would keep other people from having a positive, enriching experience. But I got my mat, I took a deep breath, and I started this practice.
And the truth is, it was not love at first sight for me. Yoga challenged me at a level that I don't think I had ever experienced before. It challenged me on a physical level. I was surrounded by all sorts of different people in the room. There wasn't one kind of body type. There were all different kinds of body types, and they were moving through these challenging transitions and poses with such ease and such grace. Yet I would collapse onto the floor in a sweaty heap. Yoga brought me face to face with my inner dialogue which at the time was completely negative. I was mean to myself, I was unkind to myself, I was judgmental, I was comparative.
When I went to yoga, which is an embodied form of meditation, I had to sit face to face with those demons. It was an on again, off again relationship for me. I would go for a long period of time and then would stop completely before eventually returning. And one day, after several years of practice, one of my first teachers said to me, “You know what, Lauren? You want all the benefits of the practice, but you don't want to do the work to get there.”
It was like a stake in the heart because it was absolutely, fundamentally, true. After that, I didn't go to yoga for a year, and when I did, I started at the beginning. I went to beginner classes to relearn everything from the bottom up. And a year later, I ended up doing my teacher training.
Lauren’s Path to Teaching Yoga and Meditation
Getting my teaching certification was prompted by when I was in college and working in the fashion industry. I progressed quickly through a new company that was taking off, and I had an executive level position by the time that I graduated. I loved working with women and mentoring young women as they built their businesses. I especially loved working with women in terms of how they felt about themselves. And I think for people within the motherhood and maternity community, we get it. When we look good, we feel good.
Eventually, I found that people were using fashion as a Band-Aid. They were buying something so that for a moment in time, they could feel better about themselves. But they were using consumerism and purchasing to try to heal wounds that weren’t actually healing. I knew what yoga had meant to me in my life. I knew what meditation had brought forward for me in my mental health and my physical health, and I decided that I wanted to help people find true healing. In order to do that, I went to pursue teaching yoga, because that’s been the pathway to my healing. I didn’t start teaching meditation until later, when I needed to honor that call.
That experience was the catalyst for me wanting to help people feel fundamental healing and health in their lives, and why I got on the path and started teaching full time.The embodied practice of yoga in combination with the sitting practice of meditation taught me that anxiety may be present, but there is a space between me and the anxiety. And if I can see that space, then there is room for me to see the part of me that isn't anxious. And inside of that awareness was the capacity to change my relationship with my anxiety. Anxiety can exist within us. We can see it, and we can still be okay. We can create a different story around it. While my meditation practice doesn't eliminate anxiety from my life, it manifests in different ways now. But I've never had an actual anxiety attack again.
How Inner Dimension TV Can Jumpstart Your Meditation Practice
On Inner Dimension TV, we have a variety of practices to meet people where they're at in their lives. We have yoga, meditation, and personal growth aspects to the platform.
You'll also find a beginner meditation series on the platform. If you're brand new to meditation, I have a twenty-eight-day program to help you learn how to establish a meditation practice. For those looking for help with sleep, the Sleep Well Series is a place for you to apply these practices to help you achieve a better night's sleep. For people who are not pregnant, I also have programs to help kick your fitness into a higher gear or help you tap into really learning how to use your practice to live your values off the mat and in your life.
While I was pregnant, I created a 40-week prenatal yoga program, which is something I am so proud of.
Our prenatal yoga program is the first of its kind – it takes you through your entire journey of pregnancy, from beginning to end. For each trimester, I created a 60-page workbook that is full of journal prompts and suggested resources. The practices will challenge you, but they're also there to help you prepare for labor and delivery.
What I really love is that I created this throughout my own pregnancy journey. So, I'm going through it at the same exact time that you are. When you’re at your first trimester, I was at my first trimester, crafting this experience. Along the way, we learn together. It feels like a deeply personalized journey because it really comes from my heart, my baby, and our experience. We're there going through it with you.
It is my hope that the resources on Inner Dimension TV can help people find true healing in the same way meditation, mindfulness, and yoga have done for me.
More From Lauren Eckstrom
Click here to discover what kinds of meditation might be best for you and beginner tips.
Click here to learn how to start a journey towards mindfulness during pregnancy and and read meditation advice for expecting mothers.
Click here to learn how your meditation practice may change once you become a mom.
Click here if you want to find out how meditation changes you, your body, and even your emotional regulation. The impact of mindfulness extends far beyond a deep breath!
Click here to read Lauren's advice on different types of meditation and the sameness of meditation and mindfulness in practice.