yoga teacher certificationBy Virginia Iversen

The practice of Yoga offers us many tools to help manage our internal and physical states of being. One of the most challenging and sometimes debilitating internal states is that of unremitting anxiety. Anxiety can be defined as the fear of being hurt in the future, in one form or another. This internal alarm system can save our lives. For example, if you are alone in a train station late at night, and you begin to experience tendrils of anxiety because you feel like you are being watched, this heightened state of alertness may enable you to save your own life. However, if you are constantly feeling anxious at one level or another, your mental and physical health may be compromised. Anxious thoughts and feelings release adrenalin and cortisol to help you navigate out of a dangerous situation. If these hormonal levels are too high for an extended period of time, the functioning of your immune system will be lowered, your cardiac health may suffer and your serotonin level may decrease, leading to depression and even more anxiety.

One of the primary tools of Yoga to manage anxiety is to rest in stillness through meditation. Although meditation may seem elusive and complicated, it is actually very simple. According to Pantanjali, the author of the Yoga Sutras, meditation is simply the cessation of the vrittis or thought waves of the mind. For some of us, this is far easier said than done! You may sit down to meditate for a specific period of time and find that your mind flits from one thought to the next. You may even discover that you are mentally writing out your grocery list or planning your next activity. Meditation is a particularly Ying practice. In the paradigm of the Ying/Yang dichotomy, Yang is very outwardly focused on “constructive” activities, and Ying practices are more introspective, dreamlike and symbolically-oriented.

Meditation allows you to drop into stillness for a period of time. This stillness is replete with regenerative energy and peace. If you find that your mind is engaged in Yang or outwardly focused activities during your meditation session, you may wish to take five or ten minutes to write down the tasks or concerns that you want to attend to later in the day. In this way, you are honoring the other activities that you want to accomplish by writing them down, and you are also freeing up your mind to rest in stillness. It is fine to keep a pen and paper nearby you during your meditation session, so that you can write down other important items as they arise. After you write the items down, let you mind settle as you breath deeply and fully through your nose. Sink into the space between your thoughts. Rest in stillness.

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

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