By Gopi Rao
Yoga can help a practitioner with releasing fear from every level of his or her mind and body. Fear resides in the body and mind in the form of anxiety. Anxiety is fueled by adrenalin and cortisol. A constant state of undifferentiated anxiety can lead to continually high levels of both of these stress hormones.
This state is known as the flight-or-fight state. The flight-or-fight state is great if you need to lift a fallen tree off of a friend’s leg or run from an impending rock slide. However, on a daily basis, these emergency hormones wear down our bodies and negatively impact our health. Long term, continually high levels of these stress hormones can cause cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and depression, amongst other health problems.
A regular practice of Yoga will help a practitioner to manage fear levels on a physical, mental, and emotional level. The physical postures of Hatha Yoga help the body to stretch, strengthen, and release lactic acid, which causes stiffness and limited mobility.
A vigorous Yoga practice with flowing movement sequences and synchronized Ujjayi pranayama will release endorphins that give us a sense of well-being. Both vigorous (vinyasa) and restorative Yoga practices will reduce the amount of adrenalin and cortisol in our systems.
A Yoga practice that is accompanied by deep rhythmic breathing (dynamic pranayama) will purge stress from the body. Dynamic pranayama methods help to soothe and quiet the sympathetic nervous system, which fuels the flight-or-fight state, thus further lowering stress hormones in our bodies.
There are many components to the practice of yoga that make it a great tool for releasing fear. Some of those components were mentioned above. There is another aspect of the practice of Yoga that is often overlooked in its capacity to reduce fear.
The art of simply focusing on one task or one pose at a time. In our contemporary virtual culture, multi-tasking is the crux of what it means to be cool. If you don’t multi-task, well, you are just not “in.” Although multi-tasking may be efficient, it raises our blood pressure and creates a continually-heightened state of anxiety.
Our bodies and minds register this anxiety as fear. When we practice Yoga for our focus, we concentrate on only one pose at a time. Additionally, a good Yoga instructor will also remind you to keep your gaze or drishti on only one spot at a time!
This one-pointed focus helps to stabilize both your mind and your Yoga pose. As your adrenaline and cortisol levels lower through a consistent Yoga practice, your mind will begin to be able to focus on only one problem or challenge at a time.
In this way, a Yoga practitioner will not feel quite so overwhelmed and will be able to clearly see the difference between a real problem and a mere inconvenience. With this clarity and one-pointed focus, a Yogi or Yogini will be better able to see and implement solutions to his or her life challenges.
This sense of personal competency will also help to lower a Yoga practitioner’s anxiety level, which will in turn lead to complete well-being through physical, mental and emotional health by constructively releasing fear.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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