Yoga for Anxiety
Anxiety comes in many different forms. Though I've never considered myself a particularly anxious person, as I look back on my activity level in high school and college, I realize that I was unknowingly managing anxiety with over-activity. My body was in a constant state of happy overdrive, excitement and activity. Hard work, running and busy-ness kept me in a constant state of 'fight or flight.'
I was happy and oblivious in a complete state of disconnect to my body.
When I started practicing yoga, I was most attracted to the energizing, 'power,' or hot yoga classes that kept me moving and entertained. For many, flowing classes are an accessible gateway toward the mind body connection because they don't always include a lot of stillness or quiet time. (Back then, I would have labeled my discomfort with stillness as 'boredom.') Over time, I realized that my mind and body desperately needed more stillness, NOT more movement and stimulation. In order to reset, I needed to actually FEEL things. All the things.
There are tons of yoga postures, meditation techniques and types of yoga practices that claim to decrease anxiety. Sometimes you can actually find conflicting information on the types of practices that are helpful or unhelpful, because there are many roots and causes of anxiety. There is no 'one-size-fits-all' solution. The main key toward dealing with anxiety is practicing self-love and self-care in a way that moves you toward new patterns and away from destructive patterns.
Where can I start?
BREATHING: Breathing is a lovely place to start. You don't have to close your eyes or even control your breath, but just notice what it's doing throughout the day. Notice where in your body you feel the most movement, or where it feels stuck. Make space for any anxiety you are feeling by allowing it to move through you. See what happens to your breath in various situations and just become aware of it's patterns.
If you'd like to begin controlling your breath a bit, you'll start to activate your parasympathetic nervous system. It's okay if making your breath slow feels a little challenging at first; for many of us, the challenge is both physical and mental.
Below is one of my very favorite 10 minute breathing meditations. You can watch and/or listen to it to sync your breath with the rhythm. I like to leave it on in the background while I'm working or take a little break to watch it.
There are many (many) more components that affect anxiety such as environment, hormones, nutrition, toxicity levels, mineral deficiencies…etc. An experienced coach or mentor can help you uncover the methods and practices that will work best for YOU.
If you'd like to practice yoga, but groups or new places trigger your anxiety, begin with private yoga instruction. I would love to help you come home to yourself.