Bend, Don't Break

by Annie Isler

My favorite podcast, On Being with Krista Tipett, recently interviewed Bessel van der Kolk.  Van der Kolk is a psychiatrist who has researched extensively on how trauma impacts neurobiology and emotional development.  Their conversation was about how to heal trauma and one of the tools van der Kolk mentioned was yoga. (Catch the episode here.)

Hearing these two talk about the mutualism of healing and yoga reminded me of my journey.  Yoga has come from divers schools, lineages, and methodologies over thousands of years of tradition.  This physical, mental, and spiritual practice is a true gift in becoming our best physical and spiritual self. 

I can remember the first time I went to a yoga class.  My best friend, Zofi, swore by the mind-body-soul experience so I went with her.  I remember walking out drenched in sweat, spiritually centered as if the universe had taken a level to my soul, and humbled by how meaningful movement on a mat had truly been.

The opportunities that yoga provides are threefold.  An hour of yoga can challenge your body, quiet your mind, and center your soul.  It can also be an exercise that adds much needed variety to a routinized work out regiment. 

I’ve found the most rewarding physical experiences are also the ones that grow us emotionally and spiritually.  We thrive in environments where connection happens.  In spaces where we challenge ourselves physically, it can be hard to find empowering practices.  The bending that happens on a mat is what can save us from breaking in our everyday experiences. 

Here are some studios in the Twin Cities metro area where I have had awesome experiences:

Spending some time in yoga will help you bend, not break.


Annie Isler
Annie Isler


Annie Isler is a women’s basketball coach, most recently serving the Minnesota Lynx as their Player Development Associate. Over the last seven years, Isler has coached at the high school, collegiate, and professional level. She is a 2009 graduate of Carleton College, where she lettered 4 times in basketball and served as team captain. Isler is a native of Minneapolis.