The uncertainty of today’s global economy and environment has many of us feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed. Managing our home, work, and finances has become challenging and even draining. Part of the problem lies in our inability to deal with situations that we feel are beyond our capacity. But if we adopt healthy coping mechanisms and empowering mindsets, we can easily navigate through difficult times. Since our body and mind are intricately connected, anxiety is best dealt with in a holistic manner, where we address all our faculties.
Yoga:The word “Yoga” means “to unite.” It is a process that brings into light all the aspects of an individual — physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. The sincere and regular practice of Yoga offers many benefits to the body, mind, and soul.
Asanas:or postures, are one of the arms of yogic science. They enhance the flow of vital energy and blood to all the cells, tissues, organs and joints in the body. While a yogic practice should include a variety of postures, some asanas that are helpful for anxiety include Surya Namaskar (sun salutation), Shashankasana (moon pose), Bhujangasana (cobra pose), and Shavasana (corpse pose). Their efficacy is enhanced by complementing them with simple deep breathing techniques, known as pranayama, which also helps in reducing the body’s stress response.
Pranayama: Prana is the life force energy within our body that is essential for its functioning and vitality, and is heavily regulated by our breath. Feeling of stress, fear, and anxiety can induce shallow and erratic breathing patterns, which can block the free flow of prana in the body, affecting both our physical and mental health.
Hence, our breath has great recuperative powers – if we alter our breath, we can alter our state of mind. When we engage in slow, deep, and regulated breathing, it engages our parasympathetic nervous system, which induces a relaxation response in the body, giving us the feeling of emotional wellbeing. Pranayam is proven to support multiple aspects of physical health, such as lung function, blood pressure, and brain function. Some simple pranayams that one could benefit from are, Anulom Vilom (alternate nostril breathing), Bhramari (bee breath), and Ujjayi (victorious breath).
Meditation: The practice of meditation or dhyan, is an established ancient Indian technique dating back thousands of years. In a spiritual context, its goal is self-awareness and enlightenment. In a non-spiritual context, it is commonly used for stress management, relaxation, increasing focus, and enhancing overall wellbeing.
Its practice can naturally produce a deep state of relaxation and center us when we are thrown off by emotional stress. Meditation works at many levels. While meditating, we force the scattered mind to rest on a single point or the object of mediation. This decreases the stream of stress-provoking thoughts that crowd our mind. By engaging in its daily practice, we not only feel positive and more tranquil, but we also build the muscle of willpower and develop greater emotional stability. Twenty minutes of secluded meditational practice is a great way to reduce anxiety. Change your attitude towards stressful situations. “Your attitude towards problems, difficulties, and adversities is the most important factor in overcoming them.” said Napoleon Hill. No doubt, problems are an inevitable part of life, but how well we negotiate them is largely dependent on our attitude.
Successful people face their share of hardships but because they know how to use them as opportunities for growth and learning, they do not succumb to failure. The enlightened perspective is to see life as an evolutionary journey where we are building our inner assets and overcoming our deficiencies.
The author is a renowned teacher of spirituality, yoga/ meditation, and expert in mind management