Yoga for Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Yoga for Anxiety and Panic Attacks We all experience anxiety from time to time. While mild anxiety is totally normal, it can be harmful if it is extreme and persistent. Severe anxiety can cause nausea, hyperventilation, heart palpitations, fatigue, restlessness, and many pain syndromes. Recent medical studies have shown that yoga soothes anxiety. The breath plays a major role in most cases of excess anxiety. Breathing practices, especially low (belly), slow breathing with lengthened exhalation is a very potent way to reduce anxiety. During panic attacks the breath usually becomes shallow & rapid, which in turn feeds anxiety. When practicing pranayama, yogic breathing exercises, the nervous system is calmed and soothed. With a regular practice we can learn how to consciously maintain a correct breathing pattern to prevent excessive anxiety and panic attacks.
Practice of Yoga postures (asana) are helpful to soothe the nervous energy that drives anxiety. In addition to the calming effects of yoga practice, restorative poses, inversions and forward bends are especially calming. Meditation and Yogic self study can get to the root of the anxiety. Through meditation one can see how busy your mind is and how unreliable a source of information it really is! Repetitive negative thoughts may be the root of anxious worries. By bringing awareness to this pattern it can be allowed to dissipate. Yoga and meditation give us control over our thoughts through mental detachment and the ability to focus the mind on the present experience. Likewise, regular practice of both breath work, asana & meditation builds self-awareness. This self-awareness can help you notice the early signs of a panic attack and avoid it.
Yogic Philosophy sees attachment as the cause of all suffering, including anxiety. It is obvious that attachment to money, sex and power cause great suffering. It may be less obvious that attachment to things being a certain way causes suffering too. By releasing our attachments we can dissolve anxiety.
Yogic philosophy, asana, pranayama and meditation are all powerful tools in the reduction and prevention of excess states of anxiety and panic attacks.
Bill Gallagher, Yoga Therapist, Physical Therapist, Qigong Teacher & Tai Chi Teacher has worked with hundreds of people suffering from anxiety and panic attacks and has found Yoga to be a very potent way to ease this condition. He sees clients in his office on the Upper West Side (UWS) and makes house calls to the Upper East Side (UES) and Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York City (NYC)
Filed under: Yoga Therapy