As a perpetual candidate for the mental merry-go-round, I have always been more nervous than others when it came to exams, job interviews, or other important situations. So nervous, in fact, that it sometimes degenerated into anxiety. The fact that I have very extreme emotional reactions to certain things is still the case today. However, with yoga I have found a wonderful tool to deal with it better.
Here are my top 5 tips for nervousness, anxiety and panic.
Please note: These exercises do not replace therapy!
Alternate Breathing Variation
The classical alternating breathing is about harmonizing the two hemispheres of the brain and gaining more concentration and inner peace. If you perform this exercise in the usual way, you inhale through one nostril, hold your breath and exhale through the other nostril before starting a new round by inhaling through the same nostril. Attention is also paid to the length of the inhale and exhale. A variation of this breathing exercise is particularly suitable for nervousness, diffuse anxiety and bouts of panic. In this variation, stopping is omitted and how long you breathe in and out doesn’t matter – you just breathe as deeply as you can.
Here’s how: Find a comfortable, upright seat. Rest your left hand on your left thigh and place the index and middle fingers of your right hand at the base of your wrist. Close your right nostril with your right thumb and inhale deeply on the left. Lower your right hand, exhale through both nostrils and inhale again. Close your left nostril with your right ring finger, exhale on the right and inhale again. Lower your right hand, exhale through both nostrils and inhale again. Close the right nostril again and exhale on the left. This completes one round. Repeat this exercise as many times as feels good to you.
Calming Yoga Poses Like Forward Folds
There are asanas that you can use to positively affect your autonomic nervous system and calm inner turmoil. The most popular: child’s pose, seated forward bend, savasana, and viparita karani, the supported shoulder stand – alternatively, you can lie down in front of a wall and rest your legs against it. Yoga Nidra is also wonderful. For guided “yogic sleep,” you’ll find numerous resources online that you can play for free.
Mini flow with humming
This little flow provides more inner peace with simple, flowing movements in harmony with the breath. A humming sound on the exhale additionally ensures that your thoughts are calmed.
Here’s how: Get into child’s pose on your mat. With an upward inhalation, straighten into tabletop position. Exhaling round your back into cat pose and hum as you exhale. Inhaling, arch your back into cow position. With the next exhalation raise your hips, come into the dog looking down. Again, make a humming sound. Inhaling, come back to cow pose and then with the next exhalation and the associated humming sound, lower yourself back into child’s pose. Repeat this sequence as many times as you like.
Milk is ayurvedically an ideal way to calm Vata – the dosha that is usually behind when we feel agitated, restless and anxious. So our grandmothers had a good nose when they used to make us warm milk when we couldn’t sleep. Golden milk is a jazzed-up version of this old home remedy, and with ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon, it does something for your immune system, too.
Yogic hand gestures can also work well to help us achieve a little more inner peace. Here are three simple mudras you can easily perform when your mind is racing:
This mudra is used in many Eastern meditation traditions, as it is said to provide inner stillness. It is meant to signal to the mind that now is the time to come to rest. Even if you don’t want to meditate, you can use this to take the edge off stressful situations.
Here’s how: Place your hands in your lap like two bowls, so that the palms are facing up. The right hand is on top. Your thumbs touch each other.
Nervousness and anxiety are often the result of excess Vata dosha. This mudra, associated with the air element, helps with Vata-related problems – including emotional ones.
Here’s how: Bend your index fingers in so that the tip of your finger touches the base of your thumb, then place your thumbs on the top knuckle of your index finger.
The “eagle gesture” is said to balance energy to the point where the carousel of thoughts slows down and moods can be better controlled-.
Here’s how: Raise both hands to chest level and cross your wrists so that your palms face your chest. Then interlace your thumbs, place your hands flat on your chest and spread your fingers.
For all mudras, it is ideal if you can find a quiet moment to hold them for a few minutes and connect them with deep, calm breath.
I wish you much joy in trying them out and always a peaceful mind!