By Gopi Rao
Is Yoga for fear effective? Yoga can help a practitioner release fear from every level of mind and body. Fear resides in the body and mind in the form of anxiety. Anxiety is fueled by adrenalin and cortisol. A constant state of anxiety can lead to continued high levels of stress hormones. This state is known as the flight-or-fight state. The flight-or-fight state is great if you need to lift a fallen tree off of a friend’s leg or run from an impending rock slide. However, these emergency hormones wear down our bodies daily and negatively impact our health. In the long-term, continually high levels of these stress hormones can cause cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and depression, amongst other health problems.
Regular yoga practice will help a practitioner manage fear levels physically, mentally, and emotionally. The physical postures of Hatha Yoga help the body to stretch, strengthen, and release lactic acid, which causes stiffness and limited mobility. A Yoga for the fear posture sequence is a lifesaver. Vigorous Yoga practice with flowing movement sequences and synchronized Ujjayi pranayama will release endorphins that give us a sense of well-being. Vigorous (vinyasa) and restorative Yoga practices will reduce the amount of adrenalin and cortisol in our systems.
Movement Reduces Fear
There is some evidence that exercise can help reduce fear and anxiety. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that people who participated in a three-month exercise program had less anxiety and fear than those who didn’t exercise. The study participants who exercised also had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Exercise can also help you deal with anxiety by providing a distraction from your worries and giving you a chance to focus on something else.
A Holistic Approach to Wellness
Yoga is a holistic approach to wellness that can be very effective in treating anxiety. Yoga helps to calm the mind and the body and can promote feelings of relaxation. It can also help improve sleep quality, which can benefit people suffering from anxiety. There are many reasons to use yoga as an adjunct treatment for anxiety. First, it is a very effective way to relax the body and mind. Second, it can help to reduce stress levels. Third, it can increase flexibility and range of motion. Fourth, it can improve breathing. Fifth, it can help to improve focus and concentration. Additionally, it can also help to reduce negative thinking and rumination. Lastly, yoga can help increase flexibility and strength and can also be a gentle exercise that can help reduce stress levels.
Quiet the Sympathetic Nervous System
A Yoga for fear practice accompanied by deep rhythmic breathing (dynamic pranayama) will purge stress from the body. Dynamic pranayama methods help to soothe and quiet the sympathetic nervous system, which fuels the flight-or-fight state, thus further lowering stress hormones in our bodies. There are many components to yoga that make it a great tool for releasing fear. Some of those components were mentioned above. Another aspect of Yoga’s practice that is often overlooked is its capacity to reduce fear.
The art of simply focusing on one task or pose at a time is one of many reasons why Yoga for fear works, and classes are full of students seeking relief from anxiety and fear. On the other hand, in our contemporary virtual culture, multi-tasking is the crux of being cool. If you don’t multitask, you are just not “in.” Additionally, in many companies, multi-tasking is required. While multitasking may be efficient, it raises our blood pressure and creates a continually-heightened state of anxiety.
Calming the Mind
Multitasking is often lauded as a necessary skill in today’s world. We are expected to be able to juggle multiple tasks at once, both at work and in our personal lives. However, this constant multitasking can lead to increased levels of anxiety and fear. Yoga can help to counter these effects by teaching us to focus on one thing at a time and be present in the moment. When we learn to focus our attention in this way, it can help to calm the mind and ease fears and anxieties.
Pranayama for Fear and Anxiety
Many yoga breathing techniques can help to ease fear and anxiety. One such technique is alternate nostril breathing. This involves gently closing one nostril and breathing in through the other. Then, close the other nostril and breathe out through the first nostril. Repeat this process several times. Another useful technique is diaphragmatic breathing. This involves placing one hand on your stomach and inhaling deeply so that your stomach expands. exhale slowly and feel your stomach contract.
Ability to Focus
Our bodies and minds register this anxiety as fear. When we practice Yoga for fear is effective because we change our focus, and we concentrate on only one pose at a time. A good Yoga instructor will also remind you to keep your gaze or drishti on only one spot at a time! This one-pointed focus helps to stabilize both your mind and your Yoga pose. As your adrenaline and cortisol levels lower through consistent Yoga practice, your mind will begin to be able to focus on only one problem or challenge at a time.
Yoga has been shown to provide cardiovascular benefits, which can help reduce fear and anxiety. A study published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology found that yoga can help improve heart rate variability, a measure of the body’s ability to regulate its cardiovascular system. The study found that people who practiced yoga had better heart rate variability than those who didn’t, indicating that yoga can help the body better regulate its cardiovascular system. This can, in turn, help reduce fear and anxiety.
About Severe Anxiety Attacks
Firstly, see a doctor if your anxiety is severe or if you’re having difficulty functioning in your daily life. When you’re in the grip of an anxiety attack, it can feel like the end of the world. However, there are things you can do to ease your symptoms and get back to feeling normal again. First, try to focus on your breath. Take slow, deep breaths and count to four as you inhale and exhale. This will help you to focus on something other than your anxious thoughts. Next, try to relax your muscles. Start by tensing up your toes and then relaxing them. Work your way up your body until you reach your head and neck. Finally, give yourself some time to calm down. If you can, step away from the situation causing you anxiety and take a few minutes to yourself.
In this way, a Yoga practitioner will not feel quite overwhelmed and can see the difference between a real problem and a mere inconvenience. With this clarity and one-pointed focus, a Yogi or Yogini will be better able to see and implement solutions to his or her life challenges. Achieving personal competency is a critical step in overcoming fear and anxiety. Yoga can help us achieve personal competency by teaching us to focus on our breath and body. Through this focus, we learn to control our thoughts and emotions. We also develop a stronger sense of self-awareness, which allows us to better understand our triggers and how to deal with them.
Many meditation techniques can help with fear and anxiety. One popular technique is known as mindfulness meditation. This involves focusing on your breath and being present in the moment. You may also want to try a mantra meditation, which involves repeating a positive phrase or word to yourself. Many other meditation techniques can be helpful for fear and anxiety. The key is to find one that works for you and stick with it.
Yoga Nidra for Fear and Anxiety
Yoga Nidra, also known as “yogic sleep,” is a practice that can help with fear and anxiety. The goal of Yoga Nidra is to relax the body and mind while still being aware. This state is achieved by lying down in a comfortable position and focusing on the breath. The practice begins with guided body relaxation and focuses on the breath. Once the body is relaxed, the mind can focus on positive affirmations or visualizations.
Mantra, Prayer, and Positive Affirmations
There are many different ways to deal with fear and anxiety, but one effective method is through the use of mantra, prayer, and positive affirmations. By repeating a positive statement or phrase, you can help to calm your mind and ease your fears. Additionally, praying to a higher power can give you a sense of peace and help to remove some of the worry from your mind. Lastly, using positive affirmations can help you to change your thinking patterns and focus on the positive instead of the negative.
Side Note for Teachers
A specialized class or sequence that addresses Yoga for fear should always contain heart-opening poses. We play with electronic devices too much, which results in poor slouching posture and makes humans look more like buzzards. The forward slouch effect crunches the head and neck on our vital organs. We feel terrible, and the more we play with the device, the more we look terrible. Mix your sequences to balance, much like the Sun Salutation. Your mature students will likely appreciate slower and more precise movements. Have fun, and know the results are visible. People with chronic fear and anxiety rarely display good posture.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
Do you want to become a mindfulness meditation teacher?
Yoga and Meditation Courses:
Click here to see our online Yoga Nidra teacher training course.
Are you an experienced teacher looking for YACEP credits or continuing education?
52 Essential Principles of Yoga Philosophy to Deepen your Practice
by Rina Jakubowicz
A Relaxing Way to De-stress, Re-energize, and Find Balance
by: Gail Boorstein Grossman
by B.K.S. Iyengar
By Mark Stephens
Baldwin DS, Nair RV. Escitalopram in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder. Expert Rev Neurother. 2005;5:443–9.
Ballenger JC. Update on anxiety disorders. Arch Intern Med. 1991;151:857–9.
Beck AT, Epstein N, Brown G, Steer RA. An inventor for measuring clinical anxiety: Psychometric properties. J Consult Clin Psychol. 1988;56:893–7.
Brown RP, Gerbarg PL. Sudarshan kriya yogic breathing treats stress, anxiety, and depression: Part II-Clinical applications and guidelines. J Comp and Alt Med. 2005;11:711–7.
Brown RP, Gerbarg PL. Sudarshan Kriya yogic breathing in treating stress, anxiety, and depression: Part I-neurophysiologic model. J Altern Complement Med. 2005;11:189–201.
Buhr K, Dugas MJ. The intolerance of uncertainty scale: Psychometric properties of the English version. Behav Res Ther. 2002;40:931–45.
Endler NS, Parker JD. Assessment of multidimensional coping: Task, emotion, and avoidance strategies. Psychol Assess. 1994;6:50–60.
Kennedy SH, Eisfeld BS, Cooke RG. Quality of life: An important dimension in assessing the treatment of depression. J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2001;26(Suppl): S23–8.
Lavey R, Sherman T, Mueser KT, Osborne DD, Currier M, Wolfe R. The effects of yoga on mood in psychiatric inpatients. Psychiatr Rehabil J. 2005;28:399–402.
Osman A, Kopper BA, Barrios FX, Osman JR, Wade T. The Beck Anxiety Inventory: Reexamination of factor structure and psychometric properties. J Clin Psychol. 1997;53:7–14.
Peterson RA, Plehn K. Measuring anxiety sensitivity. In: Taylor S, editor. Anxiety sensitivity: Theory, research, and treatment of the fear of anxiety.Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum; 1999. pp. 61–82.
Ray US, Mukhopadhyaya S, Purkayastha SS, Asnani V, Tomer OS, Prashad R, et al. Effect of yogic exercises on young fellowship course’s physical and mental health trainees. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2001;45:37–53.