Hatha Yoga is misunderstood and often thought of as an exercise, only. While there is physical work in Hatha Yoga practice, the ability to train one’s mind, and to live an ethical lifestyle, is a big part of the Yogic way of life. Around the world, Yoga helps people live healthy and balanced lives. Among the benefits of Yoga is the ability to help people change, or cope, with fear and suffering.
A phobia is described as an anxiety disorder, which is often characterized by an irrational fear of something or a particular situation. There are many types of anxiety disorders, such as fear of heights, small rooms, darkness, driving, crowds, water, and so on. Each of these phobias has one common link: Over the course of life, we learn to fear.
Phobia originates within one’s mind. If we allow phobias to take root, fear can easily grow to extreme conditions and situations. This is where Yoga and counseling can help. Many counselors recommend Yoga for coping with anxiety disorders. Within Hatha Yoga schools, many methods are taught; and all of them work. The following is a list of Hatha Yoga methods for coping with phobias.
Self-Reflection: This is sometimes called self-analysis. Students are guided to observe themselves without judgment. Self-criticism often turns into a “pity party.” To know one’s self, requires us to take an objective journey of self-discovery.
In classes or private sessions, with a competent Yoga teacher, a practitioner can learn how to identify the original source of a phobia. If privacy is an issue, it is not required for one to share the source of fear, but to find the source and create solutions for coping.
Meditation: When we focus on positive thoughts, we train the mind for rational thinking.
Relaxation Techniques: Some Yoga teachers feel it is easier for students to learn to relax before attempting to meditate. For most of us, relaxation is long over due.
Mantra: Some people also practice affirmations, praying, and chanting. The purpose is to focus on a positive thought, a conversation with God, or a resonating sound.
Pranayama: Yogic breathing techniques are the foundation to the mind and body connection. With practice and guidance, a Yoga student can learn to control breathing during potentially stressful times. Controlled breathing relaxes the mind and lowers blood pressure.
Asana: Sometimes, physical work helps us to reduce anxiety. Holding asanas (Yoga postures) is the easiest way to reduce anxiety and internal fears.
Group Therapy: Yoga classes function like a support group. Counselors often recommend support groups with like-minded people. Many people are trying to cope with different phobias, and group sessions help all of us live a better quality life.
Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, is a co-owner and the Director of Yoga Teacher Training at: Aura Wellness Center in, Attleboro, MA. To receive Free Yoga videos, Podcasts, e-Books, reports, and articles about Yoga, please visit: http://www.yoga-teacher-training.org/