Cultivating Calm in a Chaotic World
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States today. It doesn’t take a diagnosis to feel the impact. Whether it’s your own occasional suffering or a loved one’s persistent condition, anxiety crops up everywhere — draining life of its color, leaving exhausted humans in its wake.
This month we bring you tools to address the anxiety in your life, taught by yogis for millennia. While not a replacement for therapy or medication, yoga offers its practitioners many resources to access calm and peace even when these feel far away.
Some of the many tools of yoga:
- Breath awareness, or pranayama practices. Ranging from the simple to the adventurous, yoga’s breath practices offer a way to become grounded and embodied, pulling the practitioner out of head space and into body space.
- This month your teachers will guide you through breath awareness and breath techniques.
- Gaze points, or drishti. Yoga is very concerned with focusing the mind. Its underlying assumption is that each of us has the power to tame the mind as a charioteer might tame horses. Focusing the eyes on a single spot is just one way to reign in the mind and to bring it under conscious control.
- Notice when your instructor suggests where you should gaze.
- Movement, or asana. Not everyone feels relaxed or at ease when they sit down, for instance to meditate. Agitating thoughts, like memories and worries, can sometimes be more noisy when all is still. Physical movement provides a way to lull and vitalize the mind and body, bringing them into better connection, stimulating happiness hormones and elevating mood.
- The hearty part of any yoga class, consider how breath, gaze, mind and body come into balance when you’re doing asana.
- Meditation. Anxiety and related disorders can have the effect of tightening and constricting consciousness. Sometimes done prior to movement, sometimes done afterward, meditation has the power to give you access to a wider field of awareness, bringing stressful thoughts into perspective, calming the nervous system, and kicking on the restorative centers of the brain.
- Even a single minute of meditation can have a powerful effect. Your teachers can point you to more opportunities to learn how to meditate, if that interests you.
- Yoga Nidra, or yogic sleep. Yoga nidra is a restorative practice wherein the instructor guides you into a rested waking state while your body is positioned comfortably. The usual brain centers get a break and the healing centers work their magic.
- TYH teacher Susan DeRyder and her partner Shawn are offering Asana and Sound Healing with yoga nidra this month, Friday, Sept. 28th, 7:30-9:30pm.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and yoga’s true impact comes when it is practiced regularly and over the long term as a lifestyle. Tune in to your teachers’ suggestions all month long. Balanced, peaceful, calm and joyful people are especially needed right now, and all the work you do to embody these qualities has a ripple effect “out there.”
Thanks for your commitment to the practice. See you on the mat <3.
In gratitude and service,
Leigha & Jacquelyn