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.