Can Yoga Help Us Overcome Fear?
I’m not sure when I realized this, but yoga has helped me to overcome many fears—fear of being seen, speaking in front of groups, trying new things. Fear stopped me from moving ahead. I have used and can use my practice to move through just about anything. Insidious as it sounds, the benefits of a daily yoga practice have a way of sneaking up on you.
Of course, for humans, fear has kept us alive historically and presently. There are legitimate fears that teach us about survival: fear of moving objects, not having enough food and wild animals. Fear triggers the fight-or-flight response whether or not we find ourselves in a life-threatening situation. It is one of the causes of some of our stress-related habits and illnesses.
Patanjali explains in verse 1.12 of the Yoga Sutras, Abhyasavairagyabhyam tannirodhah. If we do the practice [any practice], we will be able to let go of the grip of things [i.e. fear] that stand in the way, and then we will move towards one-pointed focus (our goal=no fear).
So what practice can you do?
- • Asana, yoga postures: move a muscle, change a thought
• Gratitude: each day think of three things you are grateful for
• Smile even if you don’t feel it at first
• Chant a soothing sound like “ah” or “om”
• Talk to someone who cares
• Take a walk
• Write in a journal
• Pranayama: try a cooling breath practice
• Breathe: take three deep breaths, count to ten
• Spend time with positive people
• Laugh: at yourself, movies, what ever you think is funny
• Play: with animals, children, in the dirt
• Create new things
• Participate in a sport
• Avoid people, substances and behaviors that don’t support you
Movement toward change is the aim. Each of these things can be made into a daily practice that can move you to a better place. Some of them are more easily achieved with the guidance of a trained professional. Are all of these yoga? No. Can we achieve a yogic state of mind, de-stress and start to let go of fear through them? Yes.
Tomorrow I have to meet a new group of 50 people for my new business, and I’m scared. This is probably why I chose this topic. My life has led me here and I am ready. I will do my practice, breathe, be prepared and take the plunge.
I’d love to hear stories of how you’ve overcome fear.
Jacqueline, loved this post. Was fascinated by the post that you used to highlight the post. That woman was contorted in a way that I would love to be contorted, but I am afraid that that would kill me! Wonderful and so beautiful to be so flexible. You will be fantastic tomorrow. I have absolute faith in you. Hugs, Corinne
Thanks Corinne. I’m glad you enjoyed it. The pic is of me…a few years ago. LOL.