How to Use Your Practice to Ride Through Anxiety and Depression

How to Use Your Practice to Ride Through Anxiety and Depression

We are human beings. We are blessed to have bodies that experience the whole gamut of emotions – happy, sad, good, bad, and everything in between. And we must have the contrast to appreciate the positive emotions. For how would you know pleasure if you never knew pain (or the absence of it)? For emotional health, we need to be present and check in with what’s going on. To actually feel the feeling, gain info from the feeling, course correct if desired. Ride it out the other side!

I work with many people who have become emotionally or physically sick because instead of feeling the emotion, they avoided it or pushed it down, covered it up. At the time it may have seemed necessary – or maybe it was even unsafe to express the emotions, but now they’re in a heap of trouble because imbalance is piling up on top of old gunk.

Here’s where our yoga practice comes in.

When we move our bodies, adjust our alignment, and feel our muscles stretch and engage, we are absolutely in the HERE and NOW, anchored in the present.

You know that Chair Pose or Warrior 3 that seems to last forever, or even sweet/intense Pigeon Pose? Allow yourself to fully be there AND FEEL IT!

Notice WHERE you feel it and HOW it feels. Does it feel cool or warm? Is it pulsing or stagnating? Does the sensation shift around or is it localized? Rather than “checking out” mentally by focusing on random thoughts to distract yourself, immerse in the sensations you are feeling – ride it out.

Re-focus on Ujjayi Breath then.

The subtle engagement in the back of your throat. Let your diaphragm expand and BREATHE. Now you are even more presently focused, and your nervous system is calmed.

Sometimes when we’re experiencing anxiety or depression we feel so stuck, like it’ll never end. Practicing challenging yoga poses with presence and FEELING allows you to safely explore the changing nature of all things. Just like anything, it’ll pass. Train yourself on your yoga mat, and you’ve prepared for allowing, accepting and riding out emotions and feelings in your life.

Kelli Russell
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