Yoga for stress and anxiety

Why are so many of us struggling with stress and anxiety? How can yoga help?

We have such brilliant minds

And yet it often feels like they’re running away with our lives. If you’re one of the many suffering from anxiety you probably know just how brilliant your mind can be at making up nightmarish scenarios. Our brilliant minds, which have got us to the moon and are now trying to get us to Mars, are causing quite a few problems here on earth.

Why? Well, we may be evolving, but not fast enough for our minds to catch up with the fact that the majority of us are no longer under the threat of violence or attack from wild beasts. We are the descendants of the anxious, who survived the terrors of warring tribes, woolly mammoths and the threat of harsh weather and starvation. All the lovely chilled out hippies got squished or eaten. We are here because our nervous systems are really good at switching to fight-flight-freeze mode. Unfortunately modern life seems to get us stuck there – hence the need to practice switching back to rest-digest mode and start living like the incredibly fortunate humans we are. It’s like we can’t see or feel the safety and luxury that surrounds us.

How can yoga help?

Yoga can help because it can help you move your focus from following the thoughts of doom created by your brilliant mind and slide into your body. Once there you can gently ease patterns of held tension and allow the breath to gently deepen. These three things – mindfulness meditation- noticing your thoughts without becoming attached to them; mindfulness of bodily sensations – noticing how your whole being is in this moment, not just your mind; and mindfulness of the breath, which often allows the breath to deepen, all help to activate your parasympathetic nervous system – rest-digest mode.

The more you practice any of these, the more you learn to consciously activate this vital recovery mode and start to experience what it can be like to feel less anxious and stressed. Be kind to yourself – find a yoga class that helps you learn to ease your anxiety and experience what it’s like to put your worries down for a while.