“The privilege of a lifetime is to be who you really are” ~ Carl Jung
Yoga is often praised for its physical benefits, such as increased flexibility, increased muscle strength, and improved circulation. But nothing prepared me for the transformative effects yoga had on my mental health and well-being.
I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression when I was 14 and have struggled with both for most of my life. My mind was my worst enemy.
I know that exercise and a healthy lifestyle have positive effects on my mental health, and for years I dabbled in yoga classes at the gym to get out of this hole I was in.
I noticed a small change in my mood and energy level. It’s hard to explain, but I always felt a kind of tingle after a great yoga class.
So in 2022, I decided to take this yoga seriously.
Since then, I have noticed significant changes in not only my physical and health, but also my mental health. Of course, I still have my anxiety moments, but I feel better prepared to deal with them and they are less likely to pull me into a downward spiral.
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. It’s just my own experience. Seek out a medical health professional if you are struggling with mental health.
How Yoga Helps Anxiety
Yoga helps you become aware of your emotions and triggers.
The first thing you should know about yoga is that yoga is not a series of complex poses used to enhance one’s particular look or flexibility.
Instead, it is an inner practice that integrates the body, mind, and spirit to become one with the universal life force energy that sustains all life.
Meditation and breathing techniques are just as important a part of yoga poses (known as asanas).
Armed with this knowledge, yoga has the power to transform your mental state from a place of stress and anxiety to one of complete peace with yourself and the world around you.
You can be aware of how you feel and what you think without judging yourself. You can understand how your body works and what messages it is trying to convey about your health and needs.
By learning to recognize when and why I feel anxious, yoga has provided me with a safe haven to release triggers and emotions that I normally hold back.
Yoga regulates the nervous system.
When we are experiencing high levels of anxiety, we live in a constant fight or flight mode. The fight-or-flight response is designed to switch on and protect you in moments of danger or stress, and then return to homeostasis once the threat has passed.
However, in this day and age, due to increasingly stressful lifestyles, many people experience an exaggerated fight-or-flight response. placed in a state.
Living in a fight-or-flight mode consumes an enormous amount of energy and our bodies are unable to keep up with the demands in the long run. or become ill.
This is what happened to me. My mental health deteriorated because my body couldn’t handle the daily pressure.
Practicing yoga calms the nervous system, calms the mind and body out of fight-or-flight mode, and creates a space where you can actually relax.
One way to do this is by practicing breathwork, also known as pranayama.
The philosophy of yoga believes that breathing is a way to harness our energy and that of the universe. can.
When you notice that you are starting to feel anxious, take a deep breath into your belly for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of four, and exhale slowly for a count of four. This is also called belly breathing.
This may sound petty, but it really helps me calm down in moments of stress and anxiety.
Breathing slowly and deeply activates the parasympathetic nervous system. This sends a signal to the brain that there is no danger here and there is no need to activate the fight-or-flight response.
Yoga teaches us new coping mechanisms.
Yoga has taught me various techniques for dealing with anxiety and panic attacks.
First, yoga teaches that you are not your mind. You are not your thoughts, your beliefs, or even your body.
As we study the five kosher (layers of self), we find that our physical being is merely a vehicle for navigating this world. That’s not who we are as a whole. For example, Kosher teaches that our true nature cannot be wholly in the physical body because the physical body can change, but who we are remains the same.
This idea also applies to our thinking. As we began to accept that our thoughts didn’t always come from us, they began to weigh less. It is just a “redo” of what has been internalized through They don’t necessarily represent who we are.
This knowledge allowed me to distance myself from my anxious thoughts instead of letting them overwhelm me.
Second, through pranayama and meditation, which are essential aspects of yoga, we become aware of how we feel and exist within ourselves without altering or distracting those feelings. I learned to make it possible.
When we don’t allow our emotional space to be out there, we are instead denying that aspect of ourselves. We push our emotions deeper and deeper, without actually realizing that they are deeply ingrained in our psyche.
By giving your emotions space to feel, you free them from your mind and body so you don’t have to carry them around with you throughout your life.
Yoga can help you become more present.
Practicing yoga requires you to focus on the present moment. In order to hold a balanced pose like Tree Pose, or to have the correct alignment for Warrior 1, you need to pay attention to what’s going on around you right now.
If you feel dizzy while doing balance poses, your body will be out of balance.
Yoga forces you to be in the present moment, to be fully engaged in what you are doing, leaving no room for other thoughts.
For me, this was exactly what I needed to get out of my anxiety-ridden head. The constant noise of my own heart was exhausting to live with.
But the sound stops when you enter the yoga flow. The mind chatter about future scenarios that will probably never happen is no longer there.
The more you practice concentration, the easier it will be to apply this to your daily life. I realized that my mind was overactive and was able to redirect it to the task at hand instead. By paying close attention to what you are doing, you can quiet your inner voice and start enjoying the present moment.
Yoga has many incredible physical, mental and spiritual benefits. Since sticking to a consistent yoga practice, I have noticed that my anxiety has decreased dramatically and I am able to live a full and happy life without being ruled by my mind.