I regularly receive feedback after teaching a class that yoga has helped with anxiety and there are numerous studies that support this. I don’t have an exact number of how many of my students are/have been affected by this debilitating emotion but from observing over the years it’s becoming increasingly more common.
As a teacher I want to help people to alleviate this internal form of suffering and draw away from the faculties of their mind whilst developing a more spiritual practice. When it comes to yoga, it’s ultimately about consciousness. When you’re relying on your compulsive activities of the mind and emotion to get through your daily activities, your life isn’t being fulfilled. The past or the future of thought or feeling tends to clog and block fundamental energies needed to make sound and conscious decisions.
Anxiousness is a suffering of the mind which could be considered an internal reality, but not an actual reality as the people around you are not experiencing your thoughts or emotions as you are. So, these thoughts that you allow to pursue you from the past bring you into dangerous territory as some may believe that the inner reality is more believable that the ultimate reality.
This is where yoga comes in and helps to work on you from the inside. Meditation is a great way to slow the mind enough that the thoughts aren’t on repeat and imitation mode (monkey mind). Yoga is not about clearing the mind or stopping the mind as it’s a function of the body like your heart or digesting food. The mind is a wonderful tool, but like any technology you must know how to skilfully use it to your advantage.
Yoga trains the self to be less attached to the suffering associated with thought and emotion. The important thing when practising is to focus purely on the breath, our breath is connected to the nervous system. Bring the breath to an almost idle position this will and keep you alert, aware and present in the experience and thus soothing the nervous system.
You’ll start to feel lower physical tension, more relaxed, an increased bodily awareness, a quieter mind and self-compassion. The benefits will become even more pronounced with continual practice.