Yoga for Anxiety Relief

Anxiety has been, for me, a harborer of temporary paralysis, a catalyst for poor decision making, and barrier for restful sleep for a majority of my life. I have tried every imaginable remedy to relieve my ailment including but not limited to, compulsive and excessive exercise, binge drinking, coloring books, psychotherapy, pharmaceuticals, hypnotherapy and the list can go on. In my pursuit of relief from what has been diagnosed for me as “generalized anxiety disorder”, I’ve been promised over and over again that freedom would be found in pills, elixirs, sessions, treatments and remedies. None have lived up to their word. So I will not offer that yoga will cure your anxiety, and in truth, it may not even partially relieve it. What I have found to be true is that when it comes to anxiety – nothing is going to help me if I am not willing to do some of the work, myself.  I am the biggest indication of whether or not my anxiety will subside, but yoga always meets me there, when I make myself vulnerable and show up to my mat. Bearing my heart and soul, open to allow this ancient practice to assist me as I work through the emotions, no matter how intense they are. With all of this in mind, here is a sample sequence that will greatly benefit someone who is ready and willing to release emotions that are not serving your highest self.

Keep in mind, focusing on your breath and sensations in your body will assist the yoga asanas in bringing you further away from the anxiety and deeper into the present moment, whatever that may entail. Please leave me any questions, comments or concerns you’d like me to elaborate on.

love and light. – kylan

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Yoga for “Tennis Elbow”

Tennis Elbow is a term for pain near the elbow that is caused by overuse of the lateral muscles of the forearm. This results in the tendons around this muscle to become overloaded, sending pain signals to the brain to decrease activities that fire up these muscles. Clients experiencing this type of pain report that they are usually experiencing symptoms only on one side at a time, suggesting to me that there is a movement or motion they are repeating predominantly with a favored side of their body.  As humans we naturally take the path of least resistance, so we will usually hold our toothbrush in the same way each day, eat with the same hand positions of our utensils, and hold our steer wheel while we drive in a way that feels familiar to us. Hand gripping and clenching movements are the ones that will intensify this pain, so holding a coffee cup all day, chopping and cooking often, and constantly using a computer mouse are going to be examples of repeated motions that will activate this injury.

There is nothing wrong with creating routine and structures for the processes we integrate into our lives, but in our culture of “go, go, go” and “more, better, faster” we don’t allow our bodies the rest and the counteractivity that it needs in order to recuperate and recover properly. One of the prescriptions for tennis elbow is rest and icing the affected area, but for someone like me, who thrives on activity – I went in search of another remedy.

Here are some stretches and exercises that will assist in strengthening surrounding areas and stretch out the tense and overused muscles:

photo of woman wearing gray tank top and purple floral pants

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First we have “eagle pose” or Garudasana. Cross your right arm over your left arm, hinge at your elbows to about 90 degrees and depending on your flexibility, try to get your left fingers or palm into your right palm. Activate your hands, fingers, wrists and forearms. Refrain from clenching or grabbing. Remain in the pose for 5-10 slow breaths. Repeat with the left arm crossed over the right. (For the full expression of the pose, with the left arm under the right, cross your left leg over your right, reaching your left toes to the calf of your right leg. Switch sides when you switch arms)

hand

Wrist stretch: With the fingers of your right hand to the sky, back of the hand facing you, bend at the wrist and gently pull your fingers with your left hand toward your face. Hold for 5-10 slow breaths. Release and send your right fingers toward the floor, back of the hand facing away from you. Push the palm of the right hand, hinging at the wrist, toward you for 5-10 slow breaths. Release and repeat both exercises on the left hand.

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Bound forward fold: I love this stretch for so many reasons and I do it multiple times a day. Stand with feet hip distance apart, interlace your hands behind your back. Hinge at the hips and send your chest forward, keeping your hands and wrists touching (not clenching!). Bend your knees as much as you need to for your abdomen to touch your thighs, and then start to send your hands up and over your head while you start to slowly let your knees straighten. Let your head and neck hang relaxed, roll your shoulders toward and away from your neck. While maintaining the bind of your hands, keep reaching them toward the floor, without overextending at the elbow. Repeat with opposite thumb on top, 5-10 slow breaths each time, allowing the spine to reset and rest between stretches.

Knowing when to leave “well enough” alone…

I’ve had it all of my life; this tremendous stubbornness, married with a certain self-righteousness, and a generous compassion for those in need. And united, these traits give me the desire, belief and motivation to “help” those around me. Another way to put it, is that I have a guilty affection to “fix” people.

I don’t feel the slightest bit vulnerable sharing this because I know that I’m in plenty of good company. I was raised by “fixers,” and I’m in more than a handful of relationships with avid “fixers,” at work, at home, the yoga studio – we are everywhere. I can so easily spot another fixer; we are the first to get frustrated while driving, we’re not the best at listening, but we really don’t like when people don’t listen to us. We don’t usually let people do anything for us, training our help would likely be futile. We can’t understand why people aren’t more appreciative of the time and wisdom we donate in the form of unsolicited advice, and after a concerted effort in a situation we have been known to throw our hands in the air and write someone off altogether after not obtaining our preferred results.

You may have guessed it… these “fixers” as kind and well intentioned as they may be, are always going to end up extending themselves unnecessarily, and angry, hurt or pained. These attempts to help are uninvited, and as a result, most often dismissed. When nice gestures go unappreciated, feelings are going to be affected negatively. If the fixing efforts could be turned inward, a beautiful self improvement effort could be made.  That right there, ladies and gentlemen, is our solution. To keep to ourselves from any more hurt and frustration, unmet expectations, and wasted effort – giving ourselves the assistance, kindness, and good favor is certain to be well received. These questions will help you know when to step in and help, and when to keep to yourself:

  • Is my help wanted? Has it been ASKED FOR?
  • Why am I wanting to help?
  • Is my help going to hurt or harm anyone, including me?
  • Can I give my help and let go after that?

Loving the Unlovables

We all have them, people or groups we don’t necessary like and certainly don’t agree with. Perhaps they seem to attract calamity, they are magnets for toxicity, or they take pleasure in bringing misfortune to others. It’s so easy to look at these individuals and pick out flaws, fixate on aspects of their character that we don’t like, resolve to privately pray for them and cast them aside as an unlovable. Even if we don’t consciously harbor resentment, we retain judgment and private or overt criticism through gossip with like-minded mates. And here is where we will find ourselves descending to that low vibrational level.

We can quickly resolve that our misdeeds don’t equate the damage the “unlovables” bring to us, to others and even to themselves, however it doesn’t justify our wrongdoings. The key to a true resolution comes from a principle taught early and then forgotten… we must “find the similarities.” It’s in this place where we can recognize that we do share more in common than it may seem on the surface. Through finding likeness with our enemies, such as fear, jealousy or control, we understand that the imperfections of humanity sew a unifying thread between us. None are blameless, but all have the capacity for spiritual growth under a higher power of our own understanding. To avoid continued division in our already fractured world, we have to realize that we are all in this together. This is OUR life, OUR world, OUR universe – we’re all “in the same boat.” So if it goes down, we’re all going down with it.

If you need to make amends, get to it, as soon as you can. If you can be of service, reach out your hand. Sometimes the best way to bridge that gap, and dissolve negative emotions, is to walk across it and offer help in any way you can. Don’t be fake, and don’t endanger yourself, use wisdom from your elders and take direction from trusted sources. But by all means, go to any lengths to act in love toward those who are testing your ability to be loving to all. Act as if, at first, if you need to. No doubt the one who will benefit most from these gestures in love is yourself.

EGO – and the mania that ensues

The EGO topic has been coming up quite a bit for me recently. Either seeing it in others, noticing areas where mine is cropping up, or discussing it among friends. Formerly, my EGO ran my entire life, and I was vacillating from feeling absolutely entitled to everything I wanted and thought I should have, to feeling completely worthless and less than. And the pendulum would swing, one moment feeling better than someone else (“because don’t you know who I am?”) and the next I would feel waves of shame, worthlessness and despair because I didn’t think I measured up. I was trapped by judgements, stories, memories, fear and pride. It’s sad just thinking about that mental agony.  It fueled a selfish and lonely life. And I know some of you can probably relate.

So, where does this EGO come from? What is its purpose?

It is the principle that exists in our psyche that separates us from one another, helping us to organize the characteristics of our personality that allows us to function within the world. Where the EGO becomes a problem is when we allow it to get out of control. The EGO is supposed to be in service to our highest self, but when we let it take priority over our divine purpose is where we find the self will run riot. The key to ensuring that our EGO doesn’t cause chaos running the show, is to implement checks for ourselves, and continue to restore balance.

Staying in touching with our higher power, through various channels such as prayer, meditation, writing or singing maintains our connection to our highest self and allows it space to expand. Allowing ourselves to be of service prevents us from being too heavily self focused, and provides us perspective over the rumination that sometimes plagues our minds. Remaining accountable and in connection with others who are able to remind us of our true nature, put us in check with “reality” when necessary, and restore our feeling of interconnectedness in the universe is another workable and effective method to maintain balance with our EGO and highest self.

The EGO is not a bad thing, and doesn’t need to be banished completely, after all we were created in the image of whatever each of us believe our higher power to be. We are inherently wonderful, and each of us has the capacity for ultimate goodness. Treating others and ourselves with love and kindness remains the prescription I will advise. Be well, my beautiful friends. I love you.