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Strategies for Managing Anxiety Disorders Through Yoga

“Purity is when there is no anxiety, no worry, no thinking.” ~ BKS Iyengar

It was well after midnight and I began to torture myself one more time by reading his heartfelt, strife filled letter, crying for help. It was this last read that completely shattered my heart, and I realized I quickly needed an objective opinion. Another pair of trained eyes to help me navigate through his words and his underlying messages, as they appeared desperate with an intensity I hadn’t heard before. Or at least, I hadn’t admittedly recognized it before.

Separation anxiety is commonplace around toddlers and preschoolers. In the early childhood years, separation anxiety presents with more physical signs like stomachaches or clinging, refusal to participate, and sometimes full-blown tantrums. “However, as children mature into adolescence, we expect these youth will move beyond childhood fears of separation from loved ones, and are capable of increased independence.” (www.psychologytoday.com) Unfortunately, for some, these fears can persist into their adolescents building anxiety into a disorder. Children over 12 show their social and separation anxiety differently. Tantrums are pretty much a thing of the past now, instead they begin to decline invitations to hang out with peers. They prefer to stay home on weekends, or cut school to return home. They are known to grow up and limit their adult cravings for independence by planning to remain at home and attend local post secondary options rather than going away to University.

As a yoga teacher, I am trained to recognize shapes and misalignment. I watch for rapid eye activity that allows me to understand the focus and attention deficit I may be facing with certain clients. I watch for bulging protrusions, curvatures of the spine, feet placement, overall posture and other physical limitations. As a mother, I am highly astute at recognizing behavioural characteristics in my children. Observing their highs and lows, knowing what environmental triggers exist and what may get ignited in this digital and over stimulated era. It is with this observation, increased oxygen generation, and movement therapy; we will have successful children manage their own anxieties.

One of the best-known strategies in defending yourself from the social anxiety demons are yoga and relaxation. Learning how to relax your body is a part of balanced living. Muscle tension and shallow breathing are both linked to stress and anxiety (and sometimes depression). So, it is imperative to be aware of these bodily sensations and to regularly practice exercises to help you learn to relax. Self-Help; Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), use techniques we practice, project, and recall over and over when using yoga as a therapy resource.

Two strategies often used to manage anxiety disorders are Pranayama, control of the breath and Yogasana, the breath control combined with mindful and progressive muscle movement. This requires systematically contracting and extending different areas of the body at the same time. It is important to realize, the goal of relaxation is not to avoid or eliminate anxiety, but to make it a little easier to be with these feelings. The evidence is growing that a regular yoga practice is a low-risk, high-yield approach to improving mental health issues. I believe yoga is a life skill needed more today than ever.

Namaste

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