As a yoga therapist, I work with many clients who suffer from anxiety. A common symptom among them is constant nervousness about future events. They describe overwhelming feelings of dread, fear, irritability, and sadness. Other clients have experienced acute panic attacks manifested in the body as chest pain, upset stomach, and intense headaches. Feeling some anxiety over the challenges in our life is perhaps a healthy part of adulthood. It motivates us to make changes and keeps us alert to dangers. If we allow anxiety to become the central focus in our minds, however, those fears can take over and inhibit us from leading fully present lives.
The American Psychological Association estimates that one of every four adults has an anxiety disorder. This includes panic attacks, phobias, compulsive behaviors, PTSD, social anxiety, or general anxiety disorders. Think of the people you know. Imagine that 25% of your friends and family may be suffering with an anxiety disorder. It may have been you during challenging transitions in your life. It may be you right now.
In severe cases it is best to consult a doctor. In milder cases, a personalized yoga therapy plan can help manage many of the symptoms associated with anxiety.
A yoga therapy plan for anxiety varies from person to person, but I generally suggest we focus on these key areas:
-Breath management. People who are anxious tend to hold their breath. A deep inhalation clears the mind while a long exhalation activates the relaxation response.
-Restorative yoga practice. A regular yoga practice can dispel anxious energy. We may incorporate poses that open the chest, such as Bow, to relieve tension around the heart and lungs.
-Diet. We examine your diet for foods that may contribute to anxious episodes. Eliminating stimulants like caffeine and refined sugar helps regulate blood sugar levels and allows for better sleep.
-Meditation. Learning to quiet the mind and sit with difficult emotions helps us accept the uncertainty of the future rather than fear it.
-Moral support. Sometimes a client may choose to come to a yoga therapy session and just talk. Having someone to listen to you worries has great healing potential.
If you sense that your anxiety is becoming unmanageable, contact me for a free consultation. Together we can create a personalized yoga therapy plan that will help relieve your anxiety and bring balance into your life.