yoga for anxiety attacksBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Sometimes, anxiety attacks are the most intense forms of suffering the mind can inflict upon the body. Anxiety attacks can vary in severity, from confusion, dizziness, and nausea, on one end of the spectrum, to the feeling of having a heart attack, on the other. This intense and extreme suffering can be debilitating, while robbing people of the beautiful life they were meant to lead by keeping them in the trap of fear. Sometimes the fear of triggering a panic attack is worse than the attack itself. Fortunately, there are Yoga techniques that can keep anxiety attacks in check.

The first step is to practice Yoga faithfully on a daily basis, before anxiety attacks have the chance to start. Hatha Yoga is an excellent choice due to its focus on poses that release pent up tension in the muscles, meditation for focusing the mind, and deep breathing techniques (pranayama) to pace the cardiovascular system. Those who suffer from anxiety attacks often tend to breathe extremely shallow during a flare up. Although, it is unclear whether this is a default behavior, a trigger to the flare up, or a symptom of the anxiety disorder itself. Practicing Yoga, while everything is calm, serves to ground sufferers of anxiety, which helps stave off anxiety attacks during the rest of the day.

When an anxiety attack does flare up, it is instinctive to resist and fight it. If possible, control your breathing, and try to maintain conscious awareness during the attack.  Complete awareness will be made easier, if Yoga is already practiced on a daily basis. Yoga also trains the mind and body to relax in the worst of times.

Yoga’s Approach to an Anxiety Attack

Try to be the observer of the fear, pain, and dread. Try your best to avoid being swept up in a wave of terror. This will seem profoundly frightening, at first, and it may take more than a few tries to do it successfully. When the breakthrough is finally made, and the practice of conscious awareness becomes your true nature, you will rationally observe anxiety and fear, without judgment. Anxiety is simply something that is here right now. All anxiety attacks pass, and this one will be no exception. Learn to completely accept the attack, but control your breathing throughout the experience.

This is easier said than done, but well worth the effort. Once the anxiety attack is observed and accepted, a few different things happen. First, the anxiety’s power over the individual is greatly diminished because anxiety attacks gain a lot of momentum from the victim’s negative reaction to the impending attack. Secondly, when the observing consciousness is successfully brought into the attack, stability and forgiveness are the result. It is easy to hold some latent anger towards oneself or others for experiencing extreme stress, but that does not help the situation pass at all.


Anxiety and stress attacks should not be allowed to rob someone of the joy of being. Looking at extremely stressful attacks as an opportunity for inner transformation, and growth, can lead to positive states of mind, which may then lead to the elimination of the problem altogether.  Instructors should design Yoga for stress workshops, or weekly classes for anxiety, depending upon local demand.  Since there is also a need for this in the workplace, the concept of a specialized stress reduction workshop can also apply to the corporate Yoga environment. Many relaxation techniques learned within Yoga teacher training intensives should be made available for students who are immersed in states of chronic stress.  In fact, this is truly a matter of life and death.

© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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