By Amruta Kulkarni, CYT 500
Whether we realize it or not, fear is often a large part of life. The fear of disappointing others, fear of taking career risks, or fear of not accomplishing goals can affect our mental and physical states of health over time. Someone who constantly lives with feelings of fear and anxiety can develop high blood pressure, sleeplessness, depression or even a heart condition. A complete yoga session that includes pranayama, meditation and stretching can help release fears and teach people to live a more mindful, grateful life.
Getting to know yourself is a huge part of any yoga practice. The more comfortable you become with who you are, the more comfortable you become with all the stimulation the world throws at you. Heart-opening poses help you open your heart to truth, peace and calm. When performing heart-opening poses, it might be helpful to repeat a mantra such as, “I am well and confident. There is nothing to fear.” This will help train your mind to release fear and negativity.
Cobra pose will open the chest and release anxiety and fear from your heart. Half-frog pose, upward plank pose, bridge pose and wheel pose will all have positive effects on heart conditions, blood pressure and stress.
Conscious, yogic deep breathing is a wonderful way to release fear and anxiety in the moment. There are a number of simple and effective breathing techniques. The “Relaxing Breath” is a technique where you inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, around your tongue, which produces a sound. The tip of the tongue should rest behind the two front teeth on the top of the mouth. Inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, then exhale for about eight seconds. The exhale will produce a “whooshing” sound. Repeat the cycle three more times to find your anxiety and fear greatly diminished.
You might also try counting your breaths when feelings of fear are starting to take over your mind. Breathe quietly and rhythmically. Count each breath on the exhale, starting over when you reach the number five. Continue for five or 10 minutes, or until you feel less fearful.
This meditation involves sitting quietly in a comfortable position. Breathe deeply and slowly, releasing all thoughts as they pass into your mind. Those suffering from fear can visualize fear, negativity and anxiety leaving the body on each exhale. Imagine peace and confidence returning to the body with each inhale. Do not allow the mind to dwell on fearful or negative thoughts. Instead, while inhaling, think uplifting thoughts, such as, “I am confident and happy and I can achieve my goals.” Obviously, a mantra given to you by your guru will also work to rid fearful thoughts from your mind.
Fear can rob you of a quality life and, in some cases, it can take your life. A yoga teacher can provide the techniques needed to purge negative thoughts from your mind. Fear tends to be much more than reality. In the worst of time, we allow it to control us. Yoga, on the other hand, gives us the ability to see reality and it empowers us.
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