Why to make anxiety your new BFF
Sometimes during a yoga class, I experience sensations I can only describe as anxiety. Maybe you do too. Usually in long held forward bends, hip openers, or breathing through Ustrasana, there’s a dull tightness that’s a mix of physical block and mental stuckness. Hard to describe. It makes you wonder why you subject yourself to such torture: “it’s too hard, how long do we have to hold this, why is the teacher talking so much, maybe this isn’t good for me, seriously, I think I’m gonna die”. That’s anxiety talking. We all have it, though it manifests differently for everyone.
Why embrace a feeling you normally avoid? Well, your new BFF might be annoying, but she LOVES you and just wants to be heard. Listen. Stay with the pose and the present moment. Breathe through the anxiousness, and it goes away. Usually it only takes a few breaths and you’ve effectively moved the energy. You’ve stayed long enough to hear what your BFF has to say, so she moves on. She’ll come back, for sure, but with practice she visits less frequently and your ability to stay present increases. Eventually you’ll find when she does come up, you’re super excited to see her – she always gives you the scoop. Like any good friend, she teaches you more about yourself than you realize.
Avoidance is the other choice. But guess what? Your new BFF won’t go away. Anxiety, and really any fear, gets bigger and louder if you push it away. She’ll come on stronger, maybe even get mean. That’s not gonna be good. The only way to alleviate the anxiety is to embrace it. Notice what the sensation feels like, describe it, get to know it well. Breathe through it and surrender. Be thankful for the info and let go of whatever it is that you’re holding onto in mind or body. And sometimes you don’t even know what “it” is, yet surrendering opens up the energy anyway.
What about anxiety off the mat? It may look or feel different, yet we can treat it the same way. It’s information. Breathe through it, listen, stay with the present moment, and be grateful for your new BFF.