By Deb Shults (Julia’s Aunt, Psychotherapist LIMHP, Yoga Teacher)

Hi! My name is Deb Shults. Some of you may ‘know’ me from zoom TBY Yoga classes as Julia Jonson’s Aunt Deb. That is a role I cherish but just one of many. I am a wife of 45 years, mom of 3 and grandma to 7. I am a retired mental health therapist, yoga instructor, foster care board member and amateur tennis buff. I am telling you all this as a preface to my contributing to the TBY Yoga staff as a guest blogger.

My yoga journey began in 2006 but became regular in 2009. My loves are Hatha and vinyasa. To deepen my practice, I went through yoga teacher training with Tias Little and Theresa Murphy through One Tree Yoga in Omaha in 2013. 

Although it was never my intention to teach, I ended up doing so with a fellow colleague. Yoga can be helpful for mental health issues and in finding the right fit for our clients, our class was born. What better way than to have our own class geared to the specific needs of people with mental health diagnoses such as anxiety depression, trauma, etc. Along this path we developed and presented a few workshops addressing anxiety and yoga, depression and yoga, trauma and yoga and body image and yoga. 

I hope you enjoy my musings on yoga and mental health.

The Yoga/Anxiety Connection

There is a reason I referred clients with anxiety to yoga. It works. How is it that yoga can be such an effective intervention when it comes to anxiety?

We, humans, try to think and process our way through our problems. This is not a bad thing but it can only take us so far. At some point it can become circular, thus going nowhere. Anxiety stems from past or future issues, not present. 

You see, although anxiety feels like it occurs in the present moment, it doesn’t. Allow me to be a little more technical. Yoga calms anxiety by using mindful movement combined with the breath by stimulating the vagus nerve which in turn triggers the parasympathetic nervous system or our rest and digest mode. Yoga can bring us into that ever-elusive present moment in which no worry, anxiety or stress exists. The reality is that when we are in the present moment We Just Are.

Yoga calms the fluctuations of the mind and allows connection with the body. If we can calm the body, the mind will follow.

The task for all of us is to carry the peace we find on the mat, off the mat. 


Aunt Deb

Join us for:

Yoga RX for Anxiety & Depression – Gabriel Halpern – November 7th & 14th – Livestream – 1:30-3:30pm $35 for 2-Part Series. $20 Ala Carte. Sign up on our TBY Events page. 

We hope you will join us for a Livestream event geared toward anyone struggling with anxiety and depression. Gabriel Halpern, dubbed The Therapeutics Master by Yoga Journal, will visit TBY Yoga virtually for a 2-part series for yoga students and yoga teachers alike. Gabriel owned and directed the esteemed Yoga Circle in Chicago for nearly 35 years where he mentored yoga teachers and helped many students dealing with physical and mental ailments. Gabriel is also affectionately called The Godfather of Chicago’s yoga scene. We’ve always been happy to have him as a regular at TBY.