I do hope you are well and finding ways to cope, as we keep moving forward to meet this continuously vacillating life. While every component, every moving part, every particle of every living thing keeps changing and moving, the yoga sutras tell us to seek steadiness in our minds. When we identify with those moving things, or vrittis, we “forget our grandeur”, as BKS Iyengar says. This is just the beginning! We can forget everything, forget our sense of self, of well-being, forget our connectedness and lose our footing.
Anxiety easily arises when we can’t get those feet on the earth. There are so many everyday conditions that could cause anxiety, I don’t even need to list them, but just understand that we are all susceptible to stress and worry at any time.
In ayurvedic terms, anxiety has the quality of air mixed with ether, or Vatta. When these elements get out of balance with their sister elements (water, earth and fire), we feel like we’re in the midst of a dust devil or even ramping up to a full tornado. Imagine the bits of debris flying in all directions, impossible to capture or tame. The spiraling wind seldom touches the earth and its mood is unpredictable.
The movement of Vatta is up and out, so the best suited remedies will travel in and down. Because yoga includes philosophy, breath work and postures, we can draw from each of these to craft a holistic, embodied practice for healing. Your own first aid remedies for a skinned knee might include calendula, bandages and a kiss.
For your Anxiety First Aid Kit I recommend these items. You can apply them in numerical order or just grab that practice that speaks to you.
1. Sitting down. Set your body down or even lie down. Reclaim your contact with the earth, come home to your mother! Feel all the points of contact, literally the places you are touching the chair or the floor. Bring your mind in and down, and feel. Vatta can be an over-abundance of thinking, unable to feel.
2. Finding your breath: feel it, listen to it. Close your eyes so you can feel and listen even more completely. If this is possible, then start to lengthen your breath, matching inhale and exhale in length. Each time you exhale, notice those points of contact between your body and the earth. Imagine your bones dropping down with each breath out.
3. Breathe into your belly. Soften your belly, let it go. Feel your belly expand when you inhale, or imagine this belly inflating like a balloon. You can put your hands right there, to soothe yourself and to feel what’s happening. Encourage those in breaths to come into your belly, then draw the exhalations downward.
4. Extend the exhalations. Just make them longer than the inhalations. As you do so, keep dropping downward in your body, breath and mind. Invite any part of you, jaw, neck, arms, to let go and sink down.
5. Kind words: Try these mantram, or make up your own. Say them silently or aloud as you exhale:
I’m going to be OK.
I’m doing the best I can.
I am whole, just as I am.
I am not alone.
Continue to add supplies to your first aid kit. For more support, consider coming to my Yoga for Anxiety workshop next week, May 15th. This 2-hour workshop includes restorative poses, breath practices, visualization, meditation and active yoga practice. Check my website or go directly to 3 Oms Yoga.
I would love to hear from you. What is helpful to you when stress and anxiety overtake your grandeur?
Meanwhile, take good care and remember that just sitting down can be a resource for finding greater ease.
Enjoy the day.
I am delighted to be able to offer scholarships again for yoga therapy. Please don’t be shy if you are in need of support or if you know a frontline worker who you could refer to me for stress relief. Likewise, if you’re moved to support this program as a donor, please contact me.
Remember that my website has all my past newsletters, recorded meditations and videos to support your mental health. Please visit CatEnrightYogaTherapy.com.