Yoga for Anxiety
Anxiety is something that affects everyone, it is perfectly normal to have periods when you feel anxious or overwhelmed. Most people’s moods are on a spectrum, and depending on the day and the circumstance our moods will move up and down that spectrum.
However I am speaking to more and more people who’s anxiety levels are at an all time high, they feel that their moods stay at the anxious end of the spectrum and have no control over their minds or thoughts. This can be exhausting and can impact on the quality of every day life.
I am a naturally anxious person, and for as long as I can remember I have also suffered from ‘intrusive thoughts’, these are thoughts that I do not want to have but creep in anyway. The impact of these thoughts can range from spoiling my enjoyment of an event to stopping me from engaging in an activity altogether. I find that in stressful periods of my life or if I am out of my comfort zone then these thoughts get worse.
Through yoga and meditation I found a way to deal with these thoughts, I have not stopped them completely but I am able to put them in perspective and deal with them for what they are, thoughts, not reality and not premonitions, just thoughts.
Ironically at first I found that some of the messages in the new age teachings to be counterproductive for me. I became very anxious after reading ‘The Secret’, which teaches that we attract what energy we give off so if we obsess over bad things happening then bad things WILL happen because we will have attracted that energy.
This sent me into a downward spiral for months because I couldn’t control my intrusive thoughts and this made them worse. Every time I got into a car I would imagine it crashing then think, ‘Oh no! I thought about it crashing now its going to crash and it’ll be all my fault!!’
I find it much better to understand that my thoughts are not reality, I can not alter the state of the outside world just by having a bad thought. This is not in my understanding how it works.
I like to think of it this way, my mind is the only place I have to live, my inner world is how I interpret the outside world and its in my best interest to make it a happy place.
I don’t always have control over which thoughts pop into my head but I DO have control over my reactions to the ones that turn up.
Meditation has been a major key in learning to do this, the ability to sit back from your thoughts and notice them without ‘getting involved’ in them. This is not something that comes naturally, but it is a skill that you can learn, and that you need to practise, even when you feel calm it is still important to practice relaxation so that it becomes second nature to you in times of crises.
Now when I have an intrusive thought, I stop, notice it, and practice deep breathing while counting my breaths. This helps my breathing to slow down, stops me getting panicked and also allows me to keep the thought contained.
It would be a lie to say that through yoga I am now never anxious and am always calm. As I live my life I am obviously going to encounter issues and events that set the anxiety levels off, but I feel so much more capable to deal with them with my yoga tools in my toolkit.
Here is a short Yoga Routine you can do when you are feeling anxious.
This routine is suitable for all abilities, though if suffering from pelvic girdle pain please don’t bring knees wide apart in childs pose and instead keep them hip distance and keep your bum away from the heels.
Please consult a DR before starting any new exercise plan and if any pain arises please stop. This video is not intended as an alternative to medical attention.