Yoga and Anxiety

Overview

Published: 10/19/2011

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In this complex, fast paced world we now live in, most people suffer from at least a low level, if not a medium to high level of anxiety.  Anxiety can be described as a condition of over-heightened alertness in which fear is the underlying emotion. Many people may not know but anxiety can physically manifest itself in the body in many different ways including severe muscle tightness, pain, stiffness, headaches, insomnia, and high-blood pressure. It can make us feel short-tempered, irritable and in a general negative frame of mind. 
 
For someone that has a severe case of anxiety, there are a variety of strategies to feel more calm and centered.  Diet plays an important role in dealing with stress.  You must modify what you eat. Caffeine, sugary drinks, and sweets really should be eliminated.  They serve no purpose but to slow your metabolism down. Drinking green tea can be used as an alternative to drinking coffee. Try this for one week to see if you notice any different feelings in the body.
          
Begin breathing exercises such as Pranayama and alternate nostril breathing in order to have the brain and emotions feel more balanced.  You can do this for 10 minutes in the morning and in the evening before going to bed.  Chanting music such as Deva Premal, Krishna Das or Jai Uttal and sing along to them would help create a calm atmosphere.  You would find them to be uplifting as well as peaceful    
          
Another good way of keeping low anxiety is to keep a journal.  Journaling helps bring clarity to the mind and help you to identify fears and worries.  Journaling will also help you to see your inner strength as you will have the ability to see through your words how you overcame various obstacles in your life and how you evolved from the experience
                      
Daily affirmations to say out loud every day help you to maintain a positive and healthy perspective.  They should be simple yet powerful. When you feel that your life is spiraling out of control, remind yourself with a simple affirmation to combat your negative thinking. Here is a good one, “I am responsible for my life.”  Use affirmations that apply to you, are realistic, and you will believe.            
 
Spend some time in meditation.  Meditation will allow you to free your mind from negative thinking, emotional clutter, and mental noise. It will allow you to return to your place of introspective thought and your center.  Some people meditate for an hour, some for five minutes.  You will know how much time is needed for you and it will vary.  The best part is that you can meditate anywhere
 
Lastly,  donating time to serve others at a charity, such as at a homeless shelter, church or temple or volunteer at a local group that is committed to serving others that are less fortunate will ease your stress.  Love and service lift the heart and dissipate the self-absorbed, obsessive thinking inherent in anxiety.  The service you do opens your heart and you feel more loving.  And as you feel more loving, you naturally want to serve more.  When we act without practice to the outcome, or without any expectation of remuneration, we are truly on a path toward peace and enlightenment.