I’m constantly looking for ways to help my anxiety attacks after suffering from them for quite some time. But has this ever happened to you? When you finally stop searching for the answer, it pops up right in front of you? That is what happened when I started a new yoga class.
I’ve been a fond lover of yoga for a while now. I think it is the idea of exercise with a balance of meditation that I enjoy. It’s one of the only forms of exercise that leaves me always wanting to come back.
However, for the past 5 years, I was an on again – off again Vinyasa yogi. Vinyasa Yoga is a style that involves the flow of the body, linking every movement to really get your body moving. I had been going to the same spot for years and loved it.
Then I came across a deal that was too hard to resist. I ditched my ever so loved yoga studio to try out a new one.
Walking in to my first class, I had z e r o expectations. I walked in the class, not noticing much of a difference from my previous studio. Nothing stood out to me.
It wasn’t until a few minutes in that I noticed that this was different. This was not the yoga I was use to. Even though it was a slower pace and slower movement, I was finding myself more tired and drained than when I did Vinyasa at my last studio. I didn’t get it.
I was so spent, I had to lay on my mat half way through the class because I thought I would actually yak. My breath grew heavy and I became weak and nauseous. Powering through the class, I drove home to look into what the heck I had just gotten myself into.
I could barely even walk in to my house.
After doing some quick research into the new studio I just attended, I realized I enrolled in a Bikram Yoga class. Bikram Yoga is a very different experience. It consists of 26 postures that are always performed in the same sequence. The sequence is the key to getting the most benefit from it. It is about holding the pose, rather than movement like Vinyasa.
Even though I was exhausted and drained, I decided to give it another try and go back for another class.
Dreading the first half of class, I finally resonated with something the teacher said. My teacher explained that our mouth should stay closed through out the extent of the whole practice. Breathing should be in and out of the nose. As soon as you start breathing through the mouth, your body internally begins to panic and it becomes harder to breathe. It may even make you dizzy and nauseous.
H E L L O, I wanted to scream. That was me! I felt dizzy. I felt nauseous. My body started to panic.
She told us this is what can happen when a person has an anxiety attack.
H E L L O, I wanted to scream again. I get anxiety attacks, I get short of breathe and feel like I can’t breathe.
Laying on my mat, my thoughts began to wander from the practice (shhhh, a big yoga no-no). I had suffered from anxiety for as long as I remembered. Getting the occasional attack, my body would go into complete shock. I couldn’t feel my arms or legs, and I felt completely claustrophobic. I would lie on my bed and engage in deep breathing. Huge inhale through the mouth, huge exhale out the mouth.
Was that causing me more anxiety? Was my breathing during my anxiety attack causing me even more discomfort?
During my next yoga class, I used the nose breathing technique through out the entire class and it made the world of difference. Instead of feeling drained and nauseous, I felt like I conquered the class. I remained calm and engaged in my present state of mind.
I started taking what I learned from Bikram and applying it to my anxiety. When I get anxiety it is important that I keep my eyes open and think about my present state. By taking calm breathes in and out of my nose, I become more engaged in the present and allow my body to calm down rather than create even more anxiousness.
Even though the yoga was a great exercise and meditation practice, the biggest thing I took away from this new style was how to breathe and apply it to my anxiety.
Go away anxiety attack, you’re nothing to me now!
Maty Harrington contributes to the Art of Healing blog. With a passion for writing and interest in health and lifestyle, she hopes to share her writing to inspire others.
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