Is this you?
If it is, you’re not alone. At one point or another, every participant has been there…and we’ve all wondered why we’ve decided to put ourselves through a(nother) yoga class.
I bet you didn’t realize that there could be stress in a class that so many proclaim helps alleviate such a problem but, often, we find ourselves absorbed by what’s going on around us…or what’s going on with us…or what’s going on in our lives…or what the teacher just said…or what to cook for dinner…or how we’re looking…or…or…or…
The point of a yoga class isn’t to be critical of ourselves or others. It’s to let go of judgments, self-expectations, competitiveness, negative thought processes that can lead to dislike of our bodies and minds, and fretting about this, that and the other thing. It’s about learning to be quiet regardless of the storm you’re in. As it says in the Bible, no one can add a span to their life by worrying about what tomorrow will bring; there are enough troubles today.
If you find yourself stressing during downward dog, try turning your inner critic off by focusing on your breath. Become so aware of the deep fullness of each breath that you stop thinking about all of the distractions of the day. Even if you’re not in a class, you can stop and do this exact exercise wherever you are, and it will help turn off the Fight Or Flight instinct that kicks into high gear whenever we run into the busy-ness of the day and turn on the focused rationale we all are able to utilize to the greatest effect when we’re calm.
And if you happen to be one of those people who find this very task ridden with anxiety, one of the best tips I ever learned was to count while inhaling and exhaling. Literally, count to four while inhaling and match the exhale in the same way. You’ll forget all about the anxiety of when or how much to breathe, and where. Who knew that numbers could have such an effect?
The point is, your breath is a tool. Use it and find how much less stress you carry throughout the day.
Try these breathing exercises to help with stress and anxiety: