managing anxiety with yogaBy Virginia Iversen

There are many Yogic techniques for managing anxiety and dissipating anxious energy. According to Hindu belief, samskaras or patterns of perception are created by underlying conscious and unconscious thoughts and beliefs. These thoughts and beliefs may create and perpetuate an anxious emotional state. Samskaras are said to be generated by imprints that are left on the mind, spirit and body of a person by events that have a strong impact. These events may have happened in this lifetime, or, according to some belief systems, in previous lifetimes. These samskaras create a lens by which we view our world and all of the internal and external experiences we have in it. Our underlying impressions, experiences and beliefs also determine our responses to current situations, thus determining our future karma.

A good example of a very strong samskara generated by painful experiences is that of a soldier who is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. He or she may jump at the slightest sound and suffer flashbacks of moments in battle. This anxious response will become increasingly “wired” into his or her biology to the point where the response may become uncontrollable. In order to unwind and reprogram the brain and body to not react in such a fearful way, the soldier will need to bring conscious and subconscious experiences and beliefs to light in order to reframe and integrate a very painful set of experiences. Yoga asanas and meditation practices can help to release physical tension and create space for the practitioner to become aware of and witness his or her emotional reactions. Additionally, pranayama or breathing exercises are very effective Yogic techniques for calming an overly-stimulated nervous system.

Managing Anxiety and Samskaras

Another example of managing anxiety and how our samskaras create our reality is our action or inaction in finding a great job in this challenging economy. Do you feel excited about applying for a challenging professional position in your chosen field, or do you feel anxious and pessimistic? If you feel anxious or pessimistic about landing the job of your dreams, how does this pessimism determine your actions? How much time do you put into preparing your resume or printing professional business cards if you don’t think you will be hired? In this way, your underlying beliefs about your own abilities and the opportunities that are available to you will have a large impact on your actions and desire to secure the position.

When we are able to recognize our habitual beliefs, thoughts and actions, we are, in fact, recognizing our samskaras or the pair of glasses through which we perceive the world. This witness consciousness is known as apperceiving reality. With a strong Yoga and meditation practice, we are able to witness how our underlying beliefs affect our perception of what is happening around us. Spending time “on the mat” everyday will provide you with some time and space to become aware of your thoughts and beliefs about yourself and the world at large. With this awareness, you will be able to employ Yogic techniques to begin to unravel unnecessarily pessimistic thinking and replace those negative thoughts with beliefs that will support you in reaching your highest potential.

© Copyright – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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