As told by Kaila Varano
This entire body of writing was inspired by a group of elementary school students. Last week, during my kid’s yoga class I decided to focus on anxiety and tools to use for anxiety management. I explained to my students that anxiety was that funny feeling you get before you try something new or on the first day of school. The idea was planted in my mind by the lovely, Shannon Estep. Shannon is the owner and founder of Calm Kid’s Yoga Studio in Orlando. The only kid’s only yoga studio in the area and I am blessed to be one of her instructors.
Anyhow…back to the story! I called everyone into a circle and I asked each student to share a moment where they felt anxiety. Many of my students shared times where they met a new relative, went on a new roller coaster or how they couldn’t sleep the night before school started. When it was Ms. Kaila’s turn, my students were so shocked that even I had anxiety in my life. One of my students even gasped and exclaimed that she had no idea that I experienced this similar feeling. I guess I never really considered how these kids looked at me or what they thought my life was like. To think that they thought my life contained NO anxiety really caught me off guard.
SO here it goes…
My name is Kaila Varano and I have social anxiety. Yes, you read that correctly. I, Kaila the YOGA INSTRUCTOR, struggle with anxiety.
At times it prevents me from leaving the house and other times I have to suck it up, put on a brave face and get out of my shell anyway. Then there are the times where I go downtown because “everyone else is doing it ” but I ALWAYS feel so out of place. I want nothing more than to escape the loud music and crowded spaces and simply go home and cry. Other times, I don’t feel “good enough”or I feel like I’ll never make it or I’m not confident enough and no one will like me. My thoughts actually make me feel trapped.But I’ve come to a point where I believe I’ve spent too much of my time trying to fit in, rather than embracing the beautiful soul that resides within me (and every other being).
The yoga practice is my sanctuary and a lifestyle that I have embraced to help deal with anxiety. We’re all simply human at the end of the day dealing with whatever demon resides within us. Yoga just happens to be my way of dealing with my inner demons. Taking a few deep breaths after a stressful day/situation somehow always allows me to cope with whatever I’m dealing with. Living a life of kindness, selflessness, self-love and care for all living creatures helps me battle this internal war of being an anxious vs. confident yogini.
As for my students, they made “calm bottles” last week. They filled water bottles with glitter, colored paints and beads. I told them to give their bottles a shake and practice their deep breaths whenever they’re feeling anxious.
Because even 5 year old boys and girls and 21 year old college students deal with anxiety, they just have different ways of coping with it.
A FINAL NOTE…
This semester, I was influenced by my professor ,Dr. Tom Fisher, who always made a point to say things like “nothing good ever came out of your comfort zone” or “courage is something that scares the hell out of you and you do it anyway”. Taking these words with me, I ready to push through the anxiety and live the life I’ve always dreamed of one day at a time.