How Committing To My Practice Helped Reduce Anxiety

For many years, I spent my life worried about every little thing.  Do my coworkers like me? Will I die in traffic today? What does my mom think about my new partner? And, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. To say that I was always tense/scared was a huge understatement.

When I realized that feeling emotionally crippled all the time wasn’t the normal way of being, I decided to find a solution. But, I didn’t want to pump myself full of mind-numbing prescription meds. This is where yoga and meditation came in.

In the beginning, I was noncommittal. Well, I was totally noncommittal – I had my practices maybe 2 times a week, but was not showing up to the mat even those days. I was used to delay my practices if I had another thing to do, like work, or study etc. And, as a result, the anxiety lingered.

After that, I remember some of my friends telling me, that it is not all about being registered to a yoga class, but becoming more serious about it and practicing it on a regular basis. In other words – committing yourself to something.  I would say, at first that was not something that seemed to me too smart, but I was so stressed and disappointed of many things, I thought showing up on the mat couple of times more than usual, wouldn’t disturb me. In reality, after it the 3 days of the week became 4 and then 5, and I couldn’t even imagine that I will start practicing yoga every day. I think those committed practices are what made me feel calmer now. My thoughts became more positive and I began to believe that I could regain control of my life.

Fast forward to today and I feel like a new person. My thinking has changed, I feel much more balanced, and I’m no longer scared of the unknown. In short, yoga and my commitment to it has given me new found strength to face the challenges of my life.

So Anxious

Did you know that approximately 40 million adults in the US suffer from anxiety? In fact, it’s the most common mental illness in America. To make it worse – this number is growing.

And, why not? Life is full of things that cause anxiety – job interviews, judgmental loved ones, first dates, work deadlines, etc. We’ve all been there.

While some fear is normal (it helps us remain focused, disciplined, and dynamic), too much can cause interference in our daily lives. Why? This fear turns into an anxiety disorder (a state of excessive worry, uneasiness, and/or fear of the unknown) that needs comprehensive treatment. Other symptoms include:

  • Obsessive (and unwanted) thoughts about traumatic events that happened in the past
  • Sweaty feet and hands
  • Lack of sleep
  • Heart palpitations
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Introverted thinking

The good news is, you don’t have to deal with these negative feelings any longer. Yoga can help. It is the perfect solution for those suffering from low-level anxiety and mild depression. And, it’s affordable, enjoyable, and proven to provide many mental benefits. How can you beat that?

Yoga and Me

Practicing beneficial yoga on a regular basis helped me stay relaxed and calm both on and off the mat. But whenever people ask me “how did you reach that result?” , I say “commitment is the key”. Only the commitment to practices could give me the strength needed to face stressful situations that would normally make me want to hide in a corner. Other noticeable benefits included:

 

  • Improved sleep
  • Heightened awareness
  • Better understanding of my needs

If you would like to experience these benefits as well, consider the following points:

Tip 1: Certain yoga poses will help relieve stress better than others

There are a number of yoga poses that can be used to calm the mind. But, the following are some of the best:

  • Bridge
  • Standing Forward Bend
  • Happy Baby
  • Legs Up the Wall
  • Seated Twist
  • Extended Puppy

Finish your practice with the Shavasana or corpse pose, which is the best one for the yoga routine end.

Tip 2: Balanced breathing reduces feelings of anxiety

There’s a reason why experts tout breathing as a way to relieve anxiety. It helps you slow down and free the mind of unnecessary, anxiety-causing thoughts. This came in especially handy when I was forced to deal with stressful situations while away from my mat.

Tip 3: Use meditation to relax the mind

Meditation is a great way to relax a cluttered mind and, perhaps the best thing about it is that it can be done anywhere. Exploring this tenet of yoga provided me with a sense of peace and calm that helped steer my mind away from the small, petty things that happened in my daily life.

Meditating just a few minutes a day can reduce anxiety and stress, improve sleep, and much more. This is why incorporating this practice into your yogic lifestyle is almost as important as doing the postures. Keeping this in mind, there are several things that you can do to get the most out of your meditation. Some of them include:

  • Try to meditate for at least 10-20 minutes. If this isn’t possible, split each session into 5-minute sessions spaced throughout your day.
  • Make sure you’re comfortable but not too much. If you get too comfortable, you run the risk of falling asleep in the middle of your meditation.
  • Keep your spine straight
  • Jingly music, incense, and/or candles (while nice) are not needed

Tip 4: Wear comfortable clothing

Getting in the mood to do yoga can be difficult, especially if you are wearing uncomfortable clothing. This may not seem like a big deal to you but, if you’ve ever gotten a wedgie, then you know exactly what I mean. Avoid this issue by wearing snug, but comfortable, unique yoga clothes that allows plenty of movement. This will ensure that you will be able to focus on what’s important, the practice itself.

Yoga has changed my life from one filled with fear to one filled with joy. It has helped me feel more happy, energized, and confident. It helped me believe in myself again. But, to reap the most benefits, you must practice on a regular basis. Good luck and, as always, Namaste’!

Emily Adams is a marketing specialist at YogiWear having a main focus on development and implementation of marketing ideas. Her primary talking points are yoga life, benefits of yoga, yogi lifestyle and yoga wear.

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