De-stressing with Bente (#16)


Learning to relax again: how do you manage to do that? Bente (23) is a freelance journalist and works as an online editor at Flow. Having experienced a near-burn-out, she’s finding her way to a life with less stress. And every Friday, she takes us with her on her journey to get there.

Since starting my journey to a less stressful life last August, I’ve had an overwhelming desire to start yoga. For months I had felt that my head and body were acting separately from each other and that the communication between the two had broken a long time ago. The promise of yoga—coming back into contact with your body—appealed to me enormously.

But when the desire first hit me, I wasn’t ready to follow it through. I couldn’t even stop for ten minutes without hyperventilating, let alone listen to my breathing for an hour. But now, ten months and lots of ups-and-downs down the line, I felt ready to take the plunge. So, on a Sunday afternoon, I found myself at the local yoga studio for an introductory lesson.

It’s only a 400-meters walk from my home. Yet, with every step I took, I felt my breath accelerate. My panic levels increased as soon as I stepped across the threshold of the studio. While the rest of the group sipped on pre-prepared tea, I thought of ways to flee. But I stayed. It hit me that I will always feel tense when trying new things, and that running away is not necessarily the best option. And with that in mind, I walked straight into the hall and sat down.


The first few minutes were spent lying quietly on our mats, trying not to think of anything. Unfortunately for me, I was constantly being bombarded with the thought: ‘How can I leave this room as silently as possible?’ And so instead of feeling a sense of calm and serenity, I was simply feeling more and more frustration.

Until the introduction round that is, when I told the room about my situation: that I am in a near-burn-out and suffer from hyperventilation. To my surprise, I saw several people nodding. They recognized my story. The yoga teacher also understood it perfectly, having suffered from a burn-out himself. Thanks to the openness of the group, I felt much more at ease.

I forgot all about my rapid breathing and did exercises that I didn’t even know were possible to do. The yoga teacher pointed out that it is not about performance, but about being nice to yourself. “Do not do something that you do not like, just because you see others doing it.”

The last minutes were dedicated once again to silence. I noticed that my heart was beating a lot slower, and that my breathing was normal again. Such a difference than an hour earlier. When I rolled up my yoga mat and went out, I didn’t really want to leave. I’ll certainly be going back next week for more.

  • Bente’s other blogs can be found here.

Photography Noah Silliman/