Overcoming Anxiety thru Yoga

Many who practice yoga, are also simultaneously exposed to prescriptions of “mindfulness” and “compassion” as the antidote for anything that runs the gamut of standard suffering. From dealing with a life altering event, being stuck in an unfulfilling career, or drawn to dysfunctional relationships, the response to stress has departed significantly from the socially accepted copings of eating, drinking, and denying. Now, we have prescription-phrases such as “Be Present”, “Make peace with yourself” and “Live authentically”.

Emotions used to be bottled-up, away from consciousness, in a place that heals them serendipitously as they are repressed. Today, it’s considered a sign of emotional prowess to be able to embrace your feelings. We are eager to experience the variety of ways that one emotion such as ‘anger’ could be unpacked and processed into a multitude of different colors, memories, experiences, thoughts, and images. But what if embracing the feelings/experience doesn’t work for everyone? Although there is a plethora of evidence that freedom comes from being able to be with discomforting feelings and experiences, there may also be an alternative:

Sue tells her story in Yoga Journal about overcoming anxiety by encouraging the warrior/fighter instead of the nurturer to embrace and cope with the anxiety. http://community.yogajournal.com/_Embracing-the-Anxiety/BLOG/2749742/25925.html

“Every time the anxiety comes up, and because I have generalized anxiety and it comes up thirty times a day in relation to nothing in particular, I call it out and embrace it with total abandon. This is an instance where my soft side is not as effective as the strong part of me. And that is where I am now. Instead of trying to hide, or comfort myself, I am challenging the anxiety to bring it hard. :-) It’s a fun way to look at it and it is working for me so far.”

So possibly the next time you are finding yourself too consumed by thoughts in a restorative pose/class, it may be your inner warrior that takes your struggle to task. Possibly add retention to Ujayii Breathing or try using Breath of Fire. Benefits could be gained through Kriyas, inversions and heart openers, while incorporating plenty of twists to ring-out anger. Yoga offers many paths towards healing. May this help along the way.

Michell Stanley, LICSWPsychotherapy in the Spa at Tranquil Space

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