The Yogic Approach to Coping with Panic Attacks and Anxiety

By Dr.Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Yoga has many styles, but they all lead to a state of inner peace. All forms of Yoga are natural solutions for panic attacks, anxiety, and stress. Over thousands of years, Yoga has been formulated, so that anyone is now able to harness their fears from within. Does this mean that Yoga will make all of your fears go away?

The truth is Yoga can teach you to rid yourself of panic attacks, anxiety, and stress, from within your inner-being, but fear is a part of life. In fact, fear can save your life. Primal fears, such as fear of death, teach us to cross the street at the right time.

People create their own realities. Unstable emotional health, in the form of panic attacks, is very real to the person who has heart palpitations, chest pain, or shortness of breath. Yet, Yoga has many energy cultivation techniques, in the form of Pranayama (Yogic breathing techniques).

Even if you are skeptical about the concept of energy cultivation – western medicine and modern science, have performed enough studies to prove Yogic breathing techniques (Pranayama) can lower stress and anxiety levels. In turn, panic attacks will be prevented just by practicing Pranayama.

It is only human to find something new to worry about, but Yoga can stop the manifestation of worry “in its tracks.” When we think, focus, and concentrate, on our problems, we are practicing the exact opposite of meditation. A Yoga teacher will instruct you in the proper steps of meditation, but you would never be taught to dwell on negative thoughts.

Yoga, and Yogic meditation, is fueled by positive energy, which creates positive thoughts. To focus daily, on negative thoughts, is a sad existence. This is much like creating your own form of “hell on earth.” This negative state of mind creates a prison, which seems very real to the pessimist. Worse yet, most people who create negative thoughts are not aware of why so many people avoid them.

If anyone is in the company of a powerful negative thinker for too long, he or she will start to experience nausea, headaches, anxiety, chest pains, and more. This person drags the cloud of doom into every room he or she enters.

To sympathize will a person who goes through life asking “Why me?” will only manifest more negative energy. Sorry to say, negative thinking can only be stopped by a reality check. A pessimist will not usually take action without a “wake up call.” You can give this person information, and he or she will inherently resist taking “life saving” action.

Therefore, how do you help yourself, or someone else, who has created their own negative reality? The first action to take is to write a list of everything, which you are grateful for. Our family, friends, co-workers, pets, health, intelligence, common sense, job, life skills, and accomplishments, are reasons to be grateful for the life that we have.

If a person cannot think of anything positive to write on the list, he or she should seek professional counseling immediately. This is not intended as an insult or to make a joke of the situation. Someone who is a deeply negative pessimist has lost touch with reality and is pushing nurturing relationships away.

Hence, unchecked negative thinking can cause relationships to end, friendships to dissolve, job loss, divorce, or suicide. You now realize, there are an unlimited number of potentially harmful situations, which can occur, when negative thought is allowed to run free.

Practicing Yoga, in the form of Pranayama, meditation, Asana (Yoga postures), and Mantra, allows us the time to find the source of panic attacks from within, while taking preventative action. This does not mean you should avoid visiting your family physician, or a professional counselor, when you need help.

Standard western medicine has many solid solutions for panic attacks, anxiety, and stress. Many physicians and counselors will gladly refer you to the nearest competent Yoga teacher. The reason for this is that Yoga works in harmony with medicine and psychotherapy. Many people, who do not practice Yoga, believe the misconception that Yoga practitioners must practice an “all natural” lifestyle.

All natural, to some people, indicates refusing prescription drugs. While prescription drugs have received much deserved “bad press” for negative side effects, the fact is – prescription drugs have saved, and continue to save, millions of lives. Yoga is an evolving science of life, which peacefully co-exists with other sciences and philosophies.

Anxiety is a normal reaction to daily stress, which occurs in everyday life. Stress and anxiety can be healthy at low or tolerable levels. Each of us is different, so one person’s “breaking point” will not be the same as someone else. This breaking point occurs when anxiety is out of control and turns into an irrational state of mind. When stress builds up to this point, we have some form of an anxiety disorder.

Panic attacks are classified as a form of anxiety disorder, under the listing “Panic Disorder.” There are many other forms of anxiety disorder, such as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, to name a few.

Panic attacks surface for no apparent reason and with no warning. They suddenly appear with hot flashes, chest pains, racing heart beat, shortness of breath, chills, and many more stress-related symptoms, which can commonly last five minutes to thirty minutes.

When you are experiencing a panic attack, Pranayama (Yogic breathing techniques), can give you instant relief. Proper Pranayama instruction should be sought from a competent Yoga teacher.

Meditation, Asana, and Mantra, should be practiced daily for prevention of panic attacks. This requires a person to take preventative action and to attend Yoga classes on a consistent basis.

Lastly, if you, or someone you know, have panic attacks, preventative action is the largest part of the solution. You should consult with your family physician, which will result in your road to recovery. Your family physician may have a list of preferred Yoga teachers in the area.

Ignoring panic attacks will not make the situation go away. If you decide to make prevention a lifestyle, regularly attending Yoga classes will be a cost-effective solution. Visit and talk with your local Yoga teacher and explain your needs.

© Copyright 2007 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications