How my yoga practice transformed my life

Ashley Chang
4 min readAug 19, 2023
Photo by kike vega on Unsplash

This post is part of a multiple-part story series where I share my journey with different things I’ve been struggling with. I’ll be covering my journey growing up as a 22-year-old in NYC through topics like health, relationships, work, and more.

About a year and a half back, I stumbled upon yoga again, and it truly turned my life around. Here’s my story:

My Journey with Yoga

Around a year ago, one of my roommates suggested trying out a yoga class at a studio close to our apartment. Our workplace had this wellness budget, so I used it for the class. Honestly, if she hadn’t suggested it and if the class hadn’t been free, I probably wouldn’t have given it a shot. Sometimes, things just fall into place, and this was definitely one of those times. I’m really glad I got into yoga.

It’s hard.

During my first class, it was a hot yoga session (C2 at Corepower Brentwood), and I was already struggling to keep up. Then, out of the blue, the instructor announces, “Headstand time!”

The rest of the class (they all seemed like regulars) just flipped into headstands with the same ease as if she had asked them to stand up. That’s when I realized these yoga classes were serious business.

Since then, yoga has become my favorite way to get moving. I do it everywhere — in my college dorm, on a beach in Miami, and different yoga classes all over the country.

There are loads of benefits to yoga.

For my body

All those poses and movements have done wonders for my flexibility, balance, and strength. Whenever I do a yoga workout, I end up sweating buckets and feeling the soreness for days. I know I’ve had a solid workout after a challenging yoga class.

Another thing I’ve learned from yoga is proper breathing.

… wait what?

I mean, I’ve obviously been breathing my whole life; it’s what keeps me going. But it wasn’t until yoga that I figured out how to breathe. Sure, I’ve dabbled in meditation before, which introduced me to controlled breathing, but yoga took it to a new level. Learning to control my breath has surprisingly helped me manage my anxiety, both in everyday situations and when things get super stressful.

For my mind

Going to yoga classes has made me feel more connected spiritually. I’ve never been religious or super spiritual, and I still am not. But there’s something about yoga that’s made me feel more in tune with the world, the people around me, and even myself. Meditation has always been my go-to for calming down, but doing yoga has taken that sense of spirituality up a notch.

Through the flow of yoga and its teachings, I’ve learned to pay better attention to how my body, mind, and surroundings all connect. When I’m in a yoga class, it’s like I can just disconnect from the daily chaos of life and the city around me.

Photo by Christopher Ott on Unsplash

My Anxiety Journey

I give a lot of credit to yoga, meditation, and the spiritual side they bring along for helping me handle my anxiety better. I used to think yoga was all about stretching, but as I attended more classes, I realized how wrong I was.

Up until a couple of years ago, anxiety was a constant companion. I’ve always been a bit of a worrier, but I just accepted it as part of who I was. I thought being anxious all the time was normal; in fact, I was surprised to find out that not everyone experienced monthly bouts of hyperventilation.

Now, though, I feel more peaceful than I ever have before. And it’s not just in my head; it’s reflected in my physical well-being too.

Physical Changes

  • I can handle caffeine without feeling like I’m on the brink of disaster.
  • My blood pressure has settled down (it used to be high).
  • My heart doesn’t race like it used to.
  • I fall asleep and stay asleep easily.

Mental Changes

  • I don’t have this urge to control every little thing (plans, relationships, work, you name it).
  • I feel lighter, less burdened overall.
  • Overthinking is less of an issue.
  • I take myself less seriously.

Of course, I still get anxious when tough situations pop up, but I’ve come such a long way. When I look back at how anxious I used to be, I can hardly believe how much more composed I am now.

Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash

Going forward

In essence, my journey with yoga has revealed its power to nurture physical health, enhance mental well-being, and foster a greater spiritual connection. The evolution from chronic anxiety to newfound tranquility underscores the immense impact of this practice on my life.

I will continue to keep practicing and one day hope to teach as well, so I can share my experience and help share the benefits of yoga with the community around me.

Any yoga and anxiety tips for me? Live in NYC? Give me yoga studio recs! Looking for a yoga buddy? Let’s go to a class together! Leave a comment below :)

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Ashley Chang

22-year-old NYC-based software engineer | Writing about the life lessons I'm learning along the way.