When anxiety becomes a lasting feature of our day it changes our behaviour and the way we think and feel.
Very often we are not even aware that something has changed in us until people close to us show their concerns repeatedly.
Statistically women are diagnosed more often suffering from the disorder. But men are not as ready to admit that something is wrong and may carry on without seeking help.
Of course the seriousness of an attack can vary considerably. It came as a surprise to myself to experience a full blown panic attack one day. Struggling with the sensations for a few minutes I finally admitted to myself that this was a heart attack. With as much dignity as I could muster I apologised to the bystanders for lying down. Help was offered and after fifteen minutes I felt well enough to drive home.
There are many people who specialise in helping us to overcome this debilitating condition.
As always not every technique and method work for everyone.
I found reassurance in learning that these attacks are like ‘false alarms’. Knowing that my heart was tested and well and that the attack would pass added to my confidence.
Nevertheless: once sensations of breathlessness, shaking and hot and cold sensations were taking my body over I could easily let myself indulge in the state and have it take over. It took practice to stop and force myself to look it in the eye. I needed to stop what I was doing and observe these uncomfortable sensations.
Breathing can easily get out of hand but we know that over-breathing worsens the situation. I learned to relax the chest, neck, shoulders while being mindful of what was going on.
In fact the feelings of anxiety could become quite strong during Yoga practice. In the safety of my yoga mat I followed the principles of ‘being in the moment/now’ and used the relaxed breath to connect with body parts and emotions and thoughts.
I learned to ‘smile’ mentally at all the crazy going-ons inside of me.
Becoming the master of myself again meant I could use the same techniques in other scenarios during the day.
Since I had become aware of the ‘problems’ behind the attacks it proved impossible to not address these.
Doing this and repeating the effort of being in the moment, observing calmly and smiling in the knowledge that I am the master of myself meant the condition petered out.
I cannot claim to know THE way to be anxiety free. But I do know that a regular yoga practice can be a major help in getting there.
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We are Kari van Eden and Michael Cordel.