Let’s face it. Anxiety and Stress can be hard.
Whether we want to talk about it or not,
we all suffer from some form or another.
We may feel Anxiety and Stress from many different sources including our work place, our family, our friends, our love life, our finances, our studies, social media and unfortunately for some, the list goes on and on.
It’s okay. After all, we are all human.
It’s okay not to be okay 100% of the time.
If you’ve never tried to cope with anxiety or stress with Yoga, I encourage you to keep reading. If you have tried yoga to cope with it , I encourage you to leave a comment from your experience for someone who might need it. We are a community. We are family.
“Where there is love, there is life” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
So how can Yoga help?
Well, first lets identify where stress and anxiety come from.
Now, we may think that our work place, our family, our friends, our love life, our finances, our studies and social media are a good place to start. And valid, they may all be good reasons, but lets dig just a little bit deeper.
To make a long story shorter, let’s talk about our Thoughts.
All anxiety and stress begins with one negative thought. And then another thought, and another, until unfortunately we feel trapped or we feel “anxious” or “stressed”.
We may think that we feel stuck at work, that we aren’t capable of getting ahead, or maybe that we’ll never amount to anything but working a dead end job our entire lives.
We may think that our relationship with a family member may never get better, that we will never be a good enough mom, dad, brother, sister, son, or daughter or that we will never be able to provide for them as good as the neighbor down the street provides for their family.
We may think that we are never a good enough friend.
We may think that we don’t deserve love or that we will never find another person to love us again after a breakup.
We may think that we will be poor and broke forever.
We may think, we may think, we may think.
Ok. So how do we stop these negative thought patterns?
We have to break the habit.
And yes it is easier said than done, but we can do it.
Thought patterns are habitual. We may have heard it from the likes of Joe Dispenza or others that “neurons that fire together wire together.” This means the more you run a neural-circuit in your brain, the stronger that circuit becomes.
In other words, the more you think certain thoughts about negativity or inadequacy (which are causing anxiety and stress), the stronger and more frequent those thoughts become.
So, how do we turn those negative thought patterns into positive ones and start creating a habit of thinking more positive?
First, lets accept that we are thinking poor thoughts and that it’s okay because it can happen to anyone. Next, acknowledge that we no longer want them in our lives and the anxiety and stress that comes with them.
Acceptance is a huge first step.
From here, focus on making an effort, no matter how small, to slow your current thoughts down.
Perhaps the best method of doing this is your breathing.
This is where Yoga comes in!
Focus on your breath.
I would say that it is just that simple, but I know first hand that it can be difficult at times to just “focus on your breath.” As Jim Rohn once said “the things that are easy to do are also easy not to do.”
One of my favorite ways to focus on my breath, especially when it comes to yoga, is to hold my my inhalation at the top for a count of 3-10 seconds and hold my exhale at the bottom for a count of 3-10 seconds. If you are already an experienced yogi, practicing ujjayi breath while doing this breathing pattern is extremely beneficial to slowing and calming everything down. For those of you that don’t know, I like to think of ujjayi breathing as pretending you are fogging up a window but you keep your mouth closed. Focus on the back of your throat. When you are making a sound that sounds like gentle ocean waves crashing on the beach, thats when you know you’ve found it.
I also recommend you try alternate nostril breathing which is inhaling and exhaling through one nostril at a time, using your pointer finger and thumb to assist you. And again holding your breath at the top for anywhere from 3 to as many seconds as you like. This practice helps calm the nervous system while enhancing your focus and self awareness
If you find your thoughts are wandering while doing these breathing exercises, that is a blessing in disguise because that means you are AWARE of your thoughts. You are not your thoughts. You are just the observer. When you become aware that you thoughts are wandering, you can then consciously choose to come back to your breath. For some this may take longer than others to really sync up with your breath. But I promise, the reward for doing so is blissfully ineffable.
Focus on just one breath at a time.
If it helps, you can count how many conscious breaths you’ve been aware of. When you find yourself thinking a thought again, come back at start at 1 again. Maybe make a goal of being aware for 5 or 10 breaths.
When you’ve reached a point where you are no longer thinking about anything and the only thing you notice is the rhythm of your breath moving in and out, you most definitely are on the right track to a more joyful, loving, peaceful state of being.
Just like anything else in life, you might suck at it the first couple times you try it, but if you stick with it, you’ll eventually get better and become good at it.
To take this to another level, you can begin to incorporate yoga asanas or poses.
Moving in and out of yoga asanas while rhythmically being synced up with your breath is something that I hope everyone experiences in their life. I can best describe it as being fully present in a flow like state. You don’t have any thoughts about anything and you are just engulfed in a natural high. There are no worries or anticipation. You feel free
If you’ve made it this far, repeat after me:
I am Loved, I am Safe, I am Grounded.