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How I Got Over My Fear of Doing Yoga in Public

Anxiety | Health

One of my true loves is travel. One of my true fears is flying.

Over the summer, I went to Italy on a yoga retreat (thank you, Mom), and wound up squeezing the life out of the hand of the kind stranger sitting next to me as I cried through the turbulence. I never sleep and barely eat (airplanes are not known for their amazing cuisine, after all!) and by the time we've landed, I have about ten new knots in my back from all the tension I hold there in my panic.

When I tell most people this, they ask, "Aren't you a yogi? Just breathe."

That is when I glare at them and sometimes flip them off. They can only say that because they're not control freaks who can't even trust the own pilot's desire to stay alive.

Not All Fears Are Irrational

To most outsiders, peoples' fears are often irrational, but to the person feeling that fear—I wouldn't dare call them silly for being scared. To the person who is crying, either about a shaking plane or an enormous spider lurking in the corner of their living room, that fear is all-consuming.

Yes, deep breaths are nice and can help a little, but sometimes you need a little something extra. Unfortunately for me, I'm too shy to throw my arms up in the air and start doing Breath of Fire/Ego Eradicator in the middle of a crowded plane. I couldn't even think about starting to tap my fingertips all over my face and talk myself through my fear, using EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique).

Then, on that trip to Italy, I asked myself why that was. I mean, I post daily pictures and weekly videos of my yoga practice on social media for the entire world to see, but for some weird reason I couldn't drop down in Down Dog at the airport?

That realization made me laugh out loud, so I immediately found some space, which happened to be right next to the security check-in at my gate, and started flowing through some Sun Salutations.

That day, I learned how to start overcoming my fears.

I still experience a moment of hesitation before lifting up into Dancer's pose when I'm in the middle of the bookstore, but I can always bring myself back into the moment by laughing at my fear.

J.K. Rowling had in right in The Prisoner of Azkaban when she wrote about the Boggart. Laughter makes fear lose all its power. So, like Ron, find a way to make a giant spider hilarious! Put it in roller skates and watch it slip and slide all over the room.

Fear Does Not Have To Paralyze You.

Get right up in its face and challenge it to a duel. You have the power to live your life exactly the way you want. You have what it takes to create your own reality. Only you can make your dreams come true.

The first step is to ditch the fear and put yourself out there—whether that means having the guts to take care of yourself and get rid of those painful knots in your back, tapping your way through a panic attack on the plane, or trapping that spider under a glass (or bucket!) and taking it outside (it's okay to throw the whole glass/bucket out along with it. Baby steps)!

So, laugh and take charge of your life. Forget fears and embrace love. You deserve to live the life you want without those fears getting in your way.

Image credit: Stacy Porter

Stacy Porter_by Stacy Porter
– Stacy recently graduated Juniata College with a degree in international studies. She and her Jack Russell Terrier (fondly called The Yoga Interrupter) make videos to inspire others to question the world, speak up for themselves, and start living their dreams. Know more about Stacy via her website and connect with her on Facebook.


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