About 18% of american adults suffer from anxiety attacks every year which when left untreated pose a risk of developing into a serious mental disorder.
The de-stressing and calming effects of yoga are well known. I am one of its witnesses. And just like me, our next guest in our Livin’ Life the Yoga Way – Interview Series, too found solace through the practice and saved herself from daily anxiety medication, migraine pills, and prescription sleeping pills.
Stephanie Mansour, CEO of Step It Up with Steph, a TV Personality and Body Image & Confidence Coach for women on a mission. A mission to create pro-social messages for women to feel good about themselves and their bodies. And as unbelievable as it may sound, she has helped her clients lose 80+ lbs in 12 weeks on NBC Chicago without any diets or gimmicks!!
Stephanie is also the creator of the workbook, 30 Days to Love Your Body & Your Life, full of mental exercises to promote positive self-talk, confidence, and positive body image. Here are excerpts from her interview on how Yoga played a major part in this:
At what age did you begin with yoga and what was your first tryst was like? We’d like to know about your motivation. Most students find Vinyasa yoga to be too slow, did it test your patience too?
Steph: I had a free week pass to a new gym on campus, and they had a “beginner’s” yoga class that I thought I’d try out. I felt so relaxed, in control, and connected to myself after just one class. The teacher had a very soothing voice, and the class wasn’t too fast or too slow. It was perfect. I started attending her class every week because of how good I felt after the deep breathing, meditation, and physical movements.
(Read: Yoga Lingo for Dummies to choose the style best suited for your lifestyle)
You mentioned taking migraine, anxiety and sleeping pills. What made you so anxious and stressed?
Steph: In college, I suffered from insomnia and generalized anxiety disorder. I also gained the Freshman 15 and then some. I ate junk food, bags of chips while studying, multiple desserts with dinner, and rarely went to the gym. I got stress headaches and migraines so was taking Excedrine Migraine daily. I became extremely unhealthy and felt like I was pill-popping everyday.
I started exercising regularly and got my eating under control, but something still felt “off”. I still felt anxious and unable to relax. It wasn’t until I started attending a weekly yoga class that my mental state became more stable, relaxed, and regulated.
(Read: How Olympic Gold medalist Jamie Anderson relieved from stress through meditation before the tournament.)
That’s incredible! So, what yoga means to you now?
Steph: For me, yoga isn’t about a physical workout. It’s about a mental workout and connecting myself to who I truly am. Yoga helps strengthen my mind-body connection and truly has helped me live in the present, relax, and embrace my life. It has also helped me focus on my purpose and mission, which is to help women feel good and confident about themselves and their bodies. Without yoga, I wouldn’t have had the clarity I needed to commit to my mission.
Here I must tell you that Stephanie has been featured on CNN, AOL, Yahoo!, Crain’s Business, and over a dozen local TV shows across the country, and is a contributor for Women’s Forum TV. She is a highly sought after confidence coach and in-home private trainer for high powered females in Chicago, combining yoga, pilates, personal training, and body image & confidence coaching with her clients.
Companies like GE have enlisted Stephanie for her “Cubicle Crunch” office wellness workshop and presentation.
Tell us how it has changed your life in general? Have you become more organized, remember things better, have improved on the relationship front, etc.? We’ve even heard about negative impact of yoga on people surrounding the yogis.
Steph: Yoga can be frustrating for me at times. Now that I am a yoga instructor, I know so much about the practice that if a teacher instructs a sequence or poses that I don’t agree with, I get agitated. I also analyze how the class is receiving the instruction and then pass judgments onto whether or not the instructor was a good influence on the class. I can get really analytic! So that is a struggle when I’m in a class sometimes.
(Read: How to Find the Right Yoga Teacher for yourself)
Tell us something about your yoga practice.
Steph: I have a daily morning routine that includes 3 sun salutes and a 60 second meditation. This starts my day off feeling more clear and connected to my purpose. I also attend 3 yoga class per week at my gym with instructors I really like. I like the 1 hour classes (anything more and I start looking at the clock too much!)
(Learn how to perform Sun Salutations or Surya Namaskar like Stephanie)
Before we wrap this up, any advice you’d like to give out for our readers?
Steph: For me, yoga is more about the breath and mind-body connection than an actual physical workout. It is through the physical postures that we gain deeper access into ourselves, but the breath is ultimately what connects us. Centering the mind and getting in touch with YOU is the most important lesson that I have learned through yoga.
For her clients outside of Chicago, Stephanie coordinates with them through her One Day Intensive, phone coaching programs, and online programs. It was only her hard work that she was one of the Chicago’s top 30 female entrepreneurs under 30 by ME, an Inspiring Chicagoan by Inspire-Connect-Network, a top 20 trainer by Nike in Chicago, and one of 50 inspiring trainers on Twitter by Masters in Health Care.