Jennifer K.

The teachings of Kripalu Yoga that I had absorbed during the weekend—particularly the practice of self-observation without judgment—offered me another way to view my experience as it was happening.

My anxiety can be triggered quite unexpectedly. Even while at Kripalu, immersed in a weekend of relaxation, whole foods, gentle yoga, and inspired learning, I discovered that my anxious feelings could surface. Yet I am so thankful to Kripalu for cultivating in me the insight I needed to experience my anxiety differently during one particular weekend—and every day since.

On that Sunday morning at Kripalu, one of my fellow program participants joyfully exclaimed, “It’s snowing! How beautiful!” We all turned to look out the windows of the Elmview Room, and saw swirling flakes falling toward the ground. While my classmates gleefully observed this first precious snowfall of the season, I sat fretting in the corner. It was virtually impossible for me to join them in their enthusiastic awe of the natural beauty of the Berkshires. I was too panicked.

My heart raced as I replayed in my mind the drama of the winter before: snowed-in during powerful, icy storms; struggling the day after to travel on the frozen roads in my little Volkswagen. My mind segued into fears of what I would face in the hours ahead, when I left Kripalu for the drive home to Connecticut. I imagined my car sliding on treacherous, icy roads, and getting stuck on the side of the Mass Pike with no one to help me.

I was feeling the onset of full-blown, worst-case blizzard anxiety.

From my yoga mat, I craned my neck to see if the snow was sticking. The others craned their necks as well, but they were clearly marveling at the beauty of the snowflakes cascading down against the backdrop of fall foliage.

But, even as I sat feeling panicked, the teachings of Kripalu Yoga that I had absorbed during the weekend—particularly the practice of Self-Observation Without Judgment—offered me another way to view this experience as it was happening. In the throes of that moment, I chose to embrace and internalize this teaching. Allowing and even inviting a shift in my awareness, I became a compassionate witness to the unfolding scene and to my state of being.

I took a few deep, mindful breaths, which helped me create some space around my anxiety. I could then hold it at a slight distance and observe its negative effects. I wondered how many other times I might have let anxious thinking diminish everyday experiences that could otherwise have been imbued with joy and peace. With this change in perspective came an overriding sense of knowing and calm. I am so grateful to Kripalu for showing me this different way of responding to anxiety.

—Jennifer K., nonprofit director, Wallingford, Connecticut