Anxiety and Yoga Therapy

Anxiety & Yoga Therapy

Are you a Pinball Wizard? Racing and bouncing daily between destination points: home, work, carpooling kids, grocery store, last-minute errands. Factor in groan-inducing hurdles like traffic, unexpected deadlines, a miscommunication with someone special, maybe a lost night’s sleep worrying about juggling details or staring at your phone checking emails…

Where does your self-care fit into the list?

We become conditioned to think a Netflix-binge or tunneling into social media allows an escape, but afterward did you find that true calm and grounding you were seeking? Still waiting to catch your breath?

Living in a culture dominated by multi-tasking, material distractions and compulsive screen time, it is easy to feel disconnected and overwhelmed. Many of us have lost the ability to sit in peaceful stillness and feel centered within in our body, mind, and breath.

Consistent and excessive stressors cause anxiety, which can affect the ability to pilot daily living. Forty million adults in the United States are affected by anxiety. Anxiety and stress take a toll on an individual’s ability to navigate the tightrope associated with maintaining life-work balance. Individuals with ongoing anxiety experience symptoms manifesting as restlessness, sleep disturbance, irritability, chronic headaches, muscle tension, gastrointestinal difficulties, depression, decreased receptiveness to new experiences, disconnection from social support systems, and/or a diminished sense of fulfillment.

With nearly one-fifth of the American population experiencing anxiety and related symptoms, the challenge of maintaining self-care practices and life balance is a very real experience.

Living with chronic anxiety, one’s mind and body struggle excessively to counterbalance stressors. Unable to claim grounding, the stress-response perpetuates. Chronic anxiety creates dysfunction in the body’s stress-response system preventing the mind and body from effectively returning to a state of calm. This imbalance in the nervous system has far-reaching effects on emotional regulation, cognitive function, and social relationships, as well as with proper functioning of the cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, and immunological systems.

Yoga therapy can help. Research shows the yogic elements of breath, meditation/visualization, and mindful movement can address the ramifications of chronic anxiety. Benefits include re-balancing the nervous system’s stress-response cycle, neuroplasticity to retrain the brain how to respond in stressful moments, neuromuscular re-education to teach the body how to be strong yet flexible, and improving a sense of connectedness to self and social networks.

With practice, one can begin to recognize and reduce the symptoms associated with anxiety. Learn how to reset the mind, breath, and body to more calmly and intentionally respond in any given moment.

 

Anxiety and Depression Association of America. https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics

The International Association of Yoga Therapists (2016). Contemporary Definitions of Yoga Therapy. http://www.iayt.org/?page=ContemporaryDefiniti

Khalsa, S. B. S., Cohen, L., McCall, T., & Telles, S. (2016). The Principles and Practice of Yoga in Health Care. Edinburgh, UK: Handspring Publishing Limited.

Locke, A. B., Kirst, N. and Shultz, C. G. (2015). Diagnosis and Management of Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder in Adults. American Family Physician, May 1;91(9):617-624. http://www.aafp.org/afp/2015/0501/p617.html

Schmalzl, L., Powers, C., & Henje Blom, E. (2015). Neurophysiological and neurocognitive mechanisms underlying the effects of yoga-based practices: towards a comprehensive theoretical framework. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 9. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2015.00235

Wisneski, L. A., and Anderson L., (2009). The Scientific Basis of Integrative Medicine. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

 

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