Category Archives: anxiety

Finding your yogic happy place

A student came up to me recently and said: “After today’s class, I thought, Yes! This is why I come to yoga.”  He was in his yogic happy place and attributed this to the class.  Acknowledging that this is not the case with every class, we mused for a minute or two about what might have been so special that day.  Was it something about his mindset? Was it the energy of the people in the room?  Was it an approach I took? I don’t think we will ever know for sure. The real take away is that every one of us has a yogic happy place an an internal GPS route leading to it.

The route is surprisingly direct, but there are lots of distractions along the way. Let’s call these distractions our sh#&. The anger about traffic, the thoughts of To-Do list items gone undone, feel free to insert your own list here. I can make it to my happy place only when I have left my sh#& at the studio door. My practice begins when I step across the threshold of the studio. My mat is a sacred space, a place of solace  Allowing things like worry and anger onto my mat guarantees a blemished practice. Better to leave these distractions at the door.  Yet, we all know it is not easy to separate ourselves from our sh#&, so I’ll offer one way to try.

First, get to class 5 minutes early. When you step into the studio or the practice room, visualize leaving your sh#& at the door.  Like a befriended stray dog, some of it will follow you.  Mindfully try leaving it again. Whatever still follows you might be important enough that you need to sit with it on your mat. Acknowledge this without getting sidetracked by a self-guided psychoanalysis session.

Gyan Mudra

gyan mudra

Next, sit comfortably on your mat with eyes closed or take a soft gaze. Place hands in gyan mudra (pads of index fingers and thumbs lightly touching, other 3 fingers extended). Gyan mudra is said to ensure mental peace, concentration and dissipate tension. Set an intention to have a great practice

Finally, inhale a sense of fullness and exhale anything you are holding onto that doesn’t enhance your practice. For some reason I keep seeing the instructions on my shampoo bottle.  Lather, rinse, repeat. Applying this to your practice, lather yourself with peaceful focus on the inhale breath. Rinse out negative feelings on the exhale. Repeat as needed – each time moving toward your happy place.

So, what happens when you recross the threshold on your way out?  I’ll bet that most, if not all, of what you left behind is gone.

Yoga to tame anxiety

Anxiety is a normal element of life. At its root, protective. Sometimes there is an identifiable source, sometimes there is a generalized feeling of unrest.  Either way, the presence of anxiety is a message, a bit of information, that something unsavory is building up in you.anxious man

I’d love it if we could develop an immunity or get an anti-anxiety vaccine.  That would be simple and neat, but a greater wisdom tells me this desire is a bit off the mark.

Sans vaccine, maybe we can just ignore anxiety and hope it goes away? As I write this, I’m hearing my mother say: “Just ignore your brothers and they’ll stop bothering you.”  My brothers can attest that this strategy had a low success rate.  Ditto for ignoring anxiety.  Sure, you might bury it for a time, but I’ve had enough psychotherapy to know that anything repeatedly pushed away will eventually gush out in surprising ways.  Have you ever struggled to neatly open a bag of chips only to have the bag rip apart causing a chipocalypse? It’s like that – unexpected and messy.

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