Yoga can make your mind become your greatest ally. The method is simple: In order to tame and train the mind, you need a tool, method or system. Yogic techniques have been helping people train the mind since history was put into writing and most likely before that. The practical applications of yoga for humankind’s problems are infinite, but lets look at a few of the most rampant mental health issues and look at practical yogic solutions.
Can Yoga Prevent Panic Attacks?
Some people have silly misconceptions about Yoga and make fun of mantras, the breathing exercises. and the meditation. Once people try yoga, they understand its importance and that it does more than improve flexibility, strength and posture; it also reduces stress and anxiety. According to the National Institutes of Health, severe anxiety leads to panic disorders and attacks that affect more than six million people in a given year. With continuous practice, yoga calms anxious minds and reduces panic attacks.
What Causes Panic Attacks?
In most cases, a panic attack occurs due to mental or emotional stress. It comes on suddenly without any warning and without knowing the triggers. Anxiety exists naturally as a survival mechanism; however, some people suffer from extreme anxiety without any present danger.
During high anxiety, the body releases an excessive amount of adrenaline, which stimulates the flight response. Without using the adrenaline for fleeing, the buildup of this hormone causes a panic attack. Symptoms of panic attacks include a rapid heartbeat, perspiration, a nervous stomach and irregular breathing.
Combating Panic Attacks
Asana, pranayama and other yogic practices help with anxiety, stress and panic attacks. Asana, or sitting posture, promotes stillness of the mind and focus on the body. It encourages a flow of energy and burns off anxious and nervous feelings. Asana consists of simple and complex postures that prove more beneficial with pranayama.
Pranayama, or extension of the breath, leads to a greater release of anxiety and stress through breathing exercises. During a panic attack, a person takes shallow, quick breaths. Pranayama teaches abdominal breathing and lengthening the time of exhalation compared to inhalation. Other exercises, such as left-nostril breathing, reduce the symptoms of anxiety, while calming the mind and body.
Yoga does not give a person absolute control over any situation. However, it does offer a method for dealing with situations in a calm, rational way. Use pranayama to focus the breath and calm the nervous body during anxious times. Learn to sit still and concentrate on the present moment and not on stressful thoughts that plague the mind. Over time and with diligent practice, yoga reduces anxiety and prevents future panic attacks.
Teaching Yoga Students With Severe Anxiety
Living with anxiety can cause a person to miss out on job opportunities, lose touch with friends or family members and develop depression. Medications that are used to treat severe anxiety come with risks. Yoga students who have severe anxiety can manage their condition to enjoy better mental health.
What Is Severe Anxiety?
Severe anxiety is a disorder that can significantly reduce quality of life for sufferers and it creates a cycle of suffering. People who suffer from severe anxiety often experience panic attacks as a result of their condition. Symptoms of severe anxiety include:
• Irregular or fast heartbeat
• Uncontrolled shaking
• Tightness or pain in the chest
• A dreamlike state
• Intense fear
While medications are available to help reduce the symptoms of severe anxiety, natural techniques including practicing yoga have been proven to lessen the severity of anxiety by allowing a yoga student to relax. Some people are even able to control their anxiety solely through the use of yoga.
The Prevalence of Anxiety
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reveals that anxiety is the most common mental health issue in the United States. Approximately 18 percent of adults suffer from the condition, and people who do not suffer from physical ailments can still develop severe anxiety.
The source of anxiety is different for everyone who suffers from the disorder. Some people develop anxiety because of a genetic predisposition. Other sufferers have a chemical imbalance in their brains that causes symptoms of anxiety. Traumatic events or prolonged stress can even trigger the development of anxiety.
How Yoga Helps Calm Students
A 2009 study conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research Center for Advanced Research in Yoga and Neurophysiology in Bangalore, India showed that cyclic meditation and supine rest are two parts of practicing yoga that are particularly helpful for people who suffer from severe anxiety. Practicing yoga on a daily basis for between 20 and 30 minutes seems to be most helpful for yoga students with the disorder.
Breathing exercises and chanting or meditation allows yoga students to shift their focus when anxiety attacks strike. This practice gives students the opportunity to let go of negative energy in order to regain control of the situation. One of the biggest triggers for anxiety attacks is a perceived lack of control over a situation. One of the most common methods people choose for dealing with negative energy is substance abuse.
Yoga Therapy for Substance Abuse
Yoga centers the body, calms the mind and encourages positive healing and growth. People who abuse drugs and alcohol lack discipline and need to develop new ways to cope. According to the National Institutes of Health, certain people have a genetic predisposition to alcoholism and drug abuse. With yoga therapy, addicts have a practical treatment option for improving their recovery and overcoming their habits.
What Yoga Does for Addiction
Yoga acts as a vessel in which a variety of exercises and techniques exist. Some yogic practices focus on sitting postures and meditation, whereas others consist of flowing poses that stretch the body and improve flexibility and strength. Yoga therapy promotes blood flow, improves concentration and revitalizes the body with much-needed oxygen. Addicts require these things to help battle substance abuse.
Yoga Therapy for Drug Abuse
When people enter rehab facilities, they participate in various programs that improve their recovery. Yoga shares the same goals of a typical rehab program, as it teaches self-discipline, encourages a spiritual connection and creates inner peace and acceptance. Every yogic practice teaches controlled breathing and focused concentration on the present moment or a task. It centers the mind and grounds the body, giving a person a sense of control in an otherwise chaotic world.
Benefits of Yoga Therapy
During intense yoga stretching, the body sweats and detoxifies all of the impurities within the muscles and the organs. The breathing exercises alleviate feelings of anger and hostility, and the meditative practices reduce anxiety, tension and stress. Yoga therapy benefits substance abusers in other ways, from relieving depression and fatigue to calming impulsive behavior and confusion.
Yoga only works with consistent practice and a willingness to adopt new principles. It involves meditation, various poses and attention to breathing. Yogic therapy connects substance abusers with their inner selves and gives them a sense of purpose. Once they develop self-worth and connectedness, they care more about eating the right foods, caring for their bodies and resisting temptations that lead to drug abuse. With additional counseling, exercise and support, yoga therapy improves people’s lives and helps them beat their addictions.
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