Yoga for Fear and Anxiety

yoga for fearBy Gopi Rao

Is Yoga for fear effective? Yoga can help a practitioner with releasing fear from every level of his or her 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 undifferentiated anxiety can lead to continually high levels of both of these 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, on a daily basis, these emergency hormones wear down our bodies and negatively impact our health. Long term, continually high levels of these stress hormones can cause cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and depression, amongst other health problems.

 

A regular practice of Yoga will help a practitioner to manage fear levels on a physical, mental, and emotional level. 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 fear sequence is a life saver. A vigorous Yoga practice with flowing movement sequences and synchronized Ujjayi pranayama will release endorphins that give us a sense of well-being. Both vigorous (vinyasa) and restorative Yoga practices will reduce the amount of adrenalin and cortisol in our systems.

 

A Yoga for fear practice that is 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 the practice of yoga that make it a great tool for releasing fear. Some of those components were mentioned above. There is another aspect of the practice of Yoga that is often overlooked in its capacity to reduce fear.

 

The art of simply focusing on one task or one 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 what it means to be cool. If you don’t multi-task, well, you are just not “in.” Additionally, in many companies, multi-tasking is absolutely required. While multi-tasking may be efficient, it raises our blood pressure and creates a continually-heightened state of anxiety.

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. Additionally, 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 a consistent Yoga practice, your mind will begin to be able to focus on only one problem or challenge at a time.

 

In this way, a Yoga practitioner will not feel quite so overwhelmed and will be able to clearly 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. This sense of personal competency will also help to lower a Yoga practitioner’s anxiety level, which will in turn lead to complete well-being through physical, mental and emotional health by constructively releasing fear.

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 poor slouching posture and makes humans look more like buzzards. The corrective action is selecting backbends (heart opening poses) instead of walking around in a poor slouching forward bend. The forward slouch effect crunches the head and neck forward on our vital organs. The result is we feel terrible and the more we play with the device, the more we look terrible. With all that said, mix your sequences so there is a balance much like the Sun Salutation. The speed of the sequence is not relevant to skeletal alignment, but your younger students will appreciate a faster pace. Your mature students will likely appreciate slower and 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?

To see our selection of Yoga instructor courses and continuing education courses, please visit the following link.

https://aurawellnesscenter.com/store/

Click here to see our online Yoga Nidra teacher training course.

Are you an experienced teacher looking for YACEP credits or continuing education?

Subscribe to Our Newsletter for Special Discounts and New Products

Related Resources

The YOGA MIND:

52 Essential Principles of Yoga Philosophy to Deepen your Practice

by Rina Jakubowicz

RESTORATIVE YOGA FOR LIFE:

A Relaxing Way to De-stress, Re-energize, and Find Balance

by: Gail Boorstein Grossman

YOGA: THE PATH TO HOLISTIC HEALTH

by B.K.S. Iyengar

TEACHING YOGA: Essential Foundations and Techniques

By Mark Stephens

Restorative Yoga Poses for Anxiety

Andrews G, Sanderson K, Slade T, Issakidis C. Why does the burden of disease persist.Relating the burden of anxiety and depression to effectiveness of treatment? Bull World Health Organ. 2000;78:446–54.

Arnau RC, Meagher MW, Norris MP, Bramson R. Psychometric evaluation of the Beck Depression Inventory-II with primary care medical patients. Health Psychol. 2001;20:112–9.

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.

Beck AT, Steer RA. Beck Anxiety Inventory Manual. San Antonio: The Psychological Corporation Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc; 1990.

Beck AT, Steer RA, Brown GK. 2nd Ed. San Antonio, TX: Psychological Corporation; 1996. Beck Depression Inventory manual.

Brawman-Mintzer O, Lydiard RB. Generalized anxiety disorder: Issues in epidemiology. J Clin Psychiatry. 1996;57(Suppl 7):3–8.

Brown RP, Gerbarg PL. Sudarshan kriya yogic breathing in the treatment of stress, anxiety, and depression: Part II-Clinical applications and guidelines. J Comp and Alt Med. 2005;11:711–7.

Brown RP, Gerbarg PL, Muskin PR. How to use Herbs, Nutrients, and Yoga in Mental Health Care.New york: W.W. Norton; 2009. pp. 71–106.

Brown RP, Gerbarg PL. Sudarshan Kriya yogic breathing in the treatment of 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.

Buhr K, Dugas MJ. Investigating the construct validity of intolerance of uncertainty and its unique relationship with worry. J Anxiety Disord. 2006;20:222–36.

Covin R, Ouirret AJ, Seeds PM, Dozois DJ. A meta-analysis of CBT for pathological worry among clients with GAD. J Anxiety Disord. 2008;22:108–16.

Durham RC, Chambers JA, MacDonald RR, Power KG, Major K. Does cognitive-behavioural therapy influence the long-term outcome of GAD.An 8-14 year follow-up of two clinical trials? Psychol Med. 2003;33:499–509.

Endler NS, Parker JD. Assessment of multidimensional coping: Task, emotion, and avoidance strategies. Psychol Assess. 1994;6:50–60.

Gelenberg AJ, Lydiard RB, Rudolph RL, Aguiar L, Haskins JT, Salinas E. Efficacy of venlafaxine extended-release capsules in nondepressed outpatients with generalized anxiety disorder: A 6-month randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2000;283:3082–8.

Katzman MA, Vermani M, Jacobs L, Marcus M, Kong B, Lessard S, et al. Quetiapine as an adjunctive pharmacotherapy for the treatment of non-remitting generalized anxiety disorder: A flexible-dose, open-label pilot trial. J Anxiety Disord. 2008;22:1480–6.

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.

Kessler RC, Chiu WT, Demler O, Walters EE. Prevalence, severity, and comorbidity of 12-Month DSM-IV Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005b;62:617–27.

Kessler RC, Berglund P, Demler O, Jin R, Merikangas KR, Walters EE. Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005;62:593–602.

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.

Malathi A, Damodaran A. Stress due to exams in medical students–role of yoga. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 1999;43:218–24.

Meyer TJ, Miller ML, Metzger RL, Borkovec TD. Development and validation of the Penn State Worry Questionnaire. Behav Res Ther. 1990;28:487–95.

Olfson M, Fireman B, Weissman MM, Leon AC, Sheehan DV, Kathol RG, et al. Mental disorders and disability among patients in a primary care group practice. Am J Psychiatry. 1997;154:1734–40.

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.

Peterson RA, Reiss S. Test Manual for the Anxiety Sensitivity Index. Orland Park, IL: International Diagnostic Systems; 1987.

Peterson RA, Reiss S. Anxiety Sensitivity Index Manual. 2nd ed. Worthington, OH: International Diagnostic Services; 1992.

Pilkington K, Kirkwood G, Rampes H, Richardson J. Yoga for depression: The research evidence. J Affect Disord. 2005;89:13–24.

Pollack MH, Zaninelli R, Goddard A, McCafferty JP, Bellew KM, Burnham DB, et al. Paroxetine in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder: Results of a placebo-controlled, flexible-dosage trial. J Clin Psychiatry. 2001;62:350–7.

Ray US, Mukhopadhyaya S, Purkayastha SS, Asnani V, Tomer OS, Prashad R, et al. Effect of yogic exercises on physical and mental health of young fellowship course trainees. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2001;45:37–53.

Reiss S, McNally RJ. The expectancy model of fear. In: Reiss S, McNally RJ, editors. Theoretical issues in behavior therapy. New York: Academic Press; 1985. pp. 107–21.

Montgomery SA. Pregabalin for the treatment of generalised anxiety disorder. Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2006;7:2139–54.

Greenberg PE, Sisitky T, Kessler RC, Finkelstein SN, Berndt ER, Davidson JR, et al. The economic burden of anxiety disorders in the 1990s. J Clin Psychiatry. 1999;60:427–35.

Statistics Canada. The Daily-Canadian Community Health Survey: Mental health and well-being (Canada Catalogue no. 11-001-XIE) [Retrieved October 19, 2006, Last cited on 2003, Sept. 3].

Wittchen HU. Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Prevalence Burden, and Cost to Society. Depress Anxiety. 2002;16:162–71.

Wittchen HU, Zhao S, Kessler RC, Eaton WW. DSM-III-R generalized anxiety disorder in the National Comorbidity Survey. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1994;51:355–64.

Massion AO, Warshaw MG, Keller MB. Quality of life and psychiatric morbidity in panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. Am J Psychiatry. 1993;150:600–7.

Kennedy SH, Dickens SE, Eisfeld BS, Bagby RM. Sexual dysfunction before antidepressant therapy in major depression. J Affect Disord. 1999;56:201–8.

Michelini S, Cassano GB, Frare F, Perugi G. Long-term use of benzodiazepines: Tolerance, dependence and clinical problems in anxiety and mood disorders. Pharmacopsychiatry. 1996;29:127–34.

Please feel free to share our posts with your friends, colleagues, and favorite social media networks. To see our complete selection of inexpensive hatha yoga teacher certification programs, please click on the courses and products button in the navigation bar in the upper left section of this page.

View our testimonials to find out what our graduates have to say about teaching yoga classes and our selection of online yoga instructor certification courses.

3 thoughts on “Yoga for Fear and Anxiety”

  1. The sense of personal competency help us to lower anxiety and fear level as a yoga practitioner, which will in turn lead to complete well-being. Thanks for posting this good article.

Leave a Comment

Your Cart