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Yoga for stress and anxiety

Why is yoga practiced and praised by so many? I think we might agree Yoga booms because it is good at training our ability to relax in a very hectic and stressful world.

Yoga therapy even more so. Not as well known or widespread, it is a highly individualized yoga practice targeting a specific condition or directed at a specific goal. The goal can be to build a better posture or to manage chronic pain. But it can also be stress-reduction or relief from anxiety.

If you ever experienced a prolonged state of hyperarousal you know that talking about anxiety is difficult and might at first only further deepen worry and fear. Before you can even think of rationalizing anxiety, you need to have a simple way to get out of it.

Using your breath, your capacity for visualisation, and very specific movement that might involve wriggling your toes and end with inverting your body, yoga offers a way to deal with anxiety and panic attacks that needs no conversation.

In yoga and yoga therapy, we don’t go into your story. We leave the story behind. For a little while and repeatedly. We train to be without our stories and feel whole, nevertheless.

By moving slowly, using well established techniques like cross-patterning, yoga nidra, affirmations or box-breathing, we find a sense of calm and renewed energy that helps us cope with the demands of everyday life. Reminding ourselves what really matters (which is not prescribed but up to you!) helps us re-connect with the world on a new footing.

While a drop in yoga class certainly may help those with only mild symptoms of anxiety, it might trigger someone who suffers from more severe trauma if the teacher is not trained to do trauma sensitive work or classes are too large and diverse. (I often see inner child-workshops presented by teachers who have no expertise besides their initial yoga teacher training and frankly, I find this lack of responsibility towards students distressing and unethical.)

What is more, group classes – if not targeted at a specific population or condition – might not be appropriate for most people: Not only those with mobility issues, high blood pressure, rheumatic arthritis, or generalized anxiety benefit from classes aiming at dealing with their restrictions instead of negating them.

Yoga therapy proves safer and more effective. As a holistic, highly specialized approach to restore a healthy balance in all sheaths of your body (physical, energetic, emotional, mental, and spiritual), it is provided by a trained yoga therapy practitioner and at best, highly experienced, yoga teacher and practitioner.

Anxiety is a widespread condition in Western societies and is recognized increasingly as a medical condition just like diabetes. There are evidence based therapeutic and medical guidelines for all kinds of mental health disorders related to over-stimulation of the nervous system. This is good news. On the one hand.

On the other, anxiety is not only that. Being unwell and feeling unsafe might stem from very different sources: Fear of failure, trauma, grief, phobias, you name it. It might come hand in hand with depression or pain and might cause trouble finding joy in life. In yoga therapy and Ayurveda, all of these symptoms are considered imbalances and require quite diverse approaches to restore a natural balance. I might just help you find the right key.

Yoga therapy supports you in the long run. Your tailored practice helps you make good choices for yourself. It establishes proper self care and setting healthy boundaries. It is a low-risk and highly beneficial complementary option to alleviate your anxiety. But it is not a scam or quick fix: you have to do the work with your yoga therapy practitioner. It takes some discipline but not too much: We will work on that, too;-)

In order to successfully manage long-built stress symptoms and anxiety, it might also be necessary for you to take medication and/or seek out a psychotherapist for intervention, depending on the severity of symptoms.

Yoga as a body-mind modality has always been a transformative process. And so is yoga therapy. I draw from hatha yoga, restorative yoga, yoga nidra, breath work, and other body-mind approaches when working with my clients.

I consistently empower them and hold space for their own transformative journey. As a result, they start to change from within – without any pressure applied, growing organically and with a good chance to recover from stress and a general feeling of being overwhelmed. They feel more joyful, less stressed and have more energy for their day.

Whether you want to get an individualized yoga therapy practice through e-mail, or see me face-to-face, or be part of a 12-week online yoga journey, simply get in touch. We will find a way.

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