restorative yoga instructor certification courseBy Faye Martins

Most of us feel anxious when we interview for a new job or make a speech in front of an auditorium filled with people, but anxiety can go far beyond sweaty palms and shallow breathing. Some people experience rapid heartbeats, nausea, or chest pain so intense that the symptoms themselves create a state of panic.

Panic attacks often accompany other illnesses, creating a cycle detrimental to physical and emotional health. Researchers have confirmed that Yoga can be a powerful complement to traditional health care, especially in conditions like anxiety and depression.

The National Institute of Mental Health defines panic attacks as sudden episodes of intense fear or impending danger. These attacks often start during adolescence and affect at least three percent of the adult population. People who seek help immediately have better outcomes than those who wait.

Causes of panic attacks vary, as do remedies. “The Textbook of Mental Health Care” discusses the benefits of Yoga training on mental health and says the practice has almost no contraindications. Even people who are using medication or talk therapy can enhance their recovery by adding a little Yoga to the mix.

Four Easy Ways to Reduce Anxiety

• Pranayama is the art of controlling breathing in order to cultivate life force energy (prana or chi) into the body. The word “prana” comes from Sanskrit and means: “that which is everywhere.” One could say that prana is a form of energy, which exists in the world at all levels of existence. Some Yoga teachers theorize that prana is a universal energy, which has many forms in the shape of mental, emotional, sexual, physical, spiritual, and cosmic energy.

• The ball toss is a simple neurological exercise related to EMDR, or eye movement desensitizing reprocessing. Anxiety tends to exist in the right side of the brain. Tossing an object from one hand to the other synchronizes the left and right hemispheres, breaking the loop of negative thinking that leads to panic attacks.

• Legs-up-the-Wall Pose is a restorative classic that helps to relieve feelings of anxiety. To do this exercise, lie down on your back and scoot your bottom toward the wall so that you are lying at a 90 degree angle with your legs straight up. Support your head or lower back, if needed, and stay in the pose for as long as 15 minutes.

• Yoga Nidra, or Yogic sleep, is a form of relaxing deeply while maintaining consciousness. It often comes at the end of a Yoga session and looks deceptively easy. To practice this form of meditation, lie on your back with your arms by your sides. With your eyes closed, form an intention and then turn your awareness progressively to each part of your body, relaxing one limb at a time. At the end, affirm your intention, and gradually return to awareness.

The prevention of panic attacks usually involves a variety of modalities. Yoga training, especially when combined with other healthy habits, helps to regulate the nervous system and calm negative brain chatter. No matter how helpful your Yoga practice is, however, never stop taking prescription medications without first consulting a medical professional.

© Copyright 2013 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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