4 Ways To Overcome Fear With Yoga

by Janey Bowyer | January 3, 2018 4:28 am

Fear used to be one of my greatest obstacles to a happy and fulfilling life. Yep, if left to its own devices, fear had the power in the past to water down my dreams. Worry held me back in all areas of my life until one day after missing a golden opportunity; I decided things had to change.

One of the biggest misconceptions is the belief that those who exercise courage never feel fear
Think of someone you admire in life: do you think they have never felt afraid? I doubt it. The difference between fear and courage in the heroic is that they don’t let fear hold them back from what they wish to achieve. Instead, they assess each life situation from a neutral state of mind, before taking a deep breath and boldly stepping outside their comfort zone. They aren’t reckless, but equally, they are not held back by their fear.

I have experienced first-hand how yoga can cultivate the ability to step away from being reactive and instead tap into a more courageous state of being. By using the gifts of breath and the third chakra to ignite courage, fear can be overcome. Apprehension may be a part of life, but it doesn’t mean it has to hinder us from reaching our full potential.

Often when feeling fearful or anxious, we can forget to breathe properly and take shallow, wasteful breaths. This kind of breathing just makes matters more difficult.

Mindful breathing is like a tonic for the nerves!

Here are two breathing exercises to bring calm and courage:

1. Calming Breathing- easy to do at intervals throughout the day. This breathing sets a firm foundation for courage to grow.

Method: You can do this either sitting or standing. The key is to slow the breathing down. The breath moves from the diaphragm. If you are not sure where that is, look at a biology diagram.
If able to, place the hands just above the navel and try and initiate the breathing from there. It is important to try and make the inhalation and exhalation equal for this meditation. Ideally breathing through the nose will slow the breathing down further.
If the mind is distracted, bring your attention back to the breathing. I would aim to inhale for the mental count of five and exhale for the same. Depending on lung capacity, build the time up to a count of ten to twenty, but never strain the breath.
Duration: at least ten breaths.

2. Kapalbhati Breathing (avoid if pregnant or menstruating)
I call this breathing the fast track to courage. Back in 2004 in Kerala, we did this breathing for thirty minutes twice a day. It gave me the courage to change.

Method: Sit with a straight spine.  Keep the shoulders away from the ears. Inhale deeply, exhale, inhale and exhale.

The key to this breathing is to concentrate on making rhythmic exhalations through the nostrils while also feeling as if the exhale is happening below the navel: the inhalation ideally should then just occur naturally.

While making the rhythmic breaths mentally count one and two and three and four etc. as you do them. That way you get the pace.

Duration: Do three rounds of ten Kapalbhati breaths to start with. After finishing each set, inhale and hold the breath for ten seconds then exhale. Gradually build up how long you hold the breath to up to a minute with practice. Never, ever strain the breath.

Yoga To Build Courage!

Practicing yoga that strengthens the third chakra builds courage. By also opening our heart chakra, we can then act from a place of loving power. Try adding these two poses to your yoga practice. Check with your doctor for suitability.

3. Stretch pose -helps to awaken our fire, build strength within, and tone the belly. Great for creating stamina both physically and mentally. This pose helps me to complete projects.

Method: Lie on your back and place your hands close to your buttocks. Raise the legs a few inches off the floor and look towards the toes without sticking the neck out too much. To make it harder, you can have the palms facing down with the arms straight by your sides and lift the hands just a few inches off the floor as you look at the feet. Start with ten seconds and build up to a minute. As you inhale you allow good things to come to you, and as you exhale you dispel fear. Repeat.

4. Bow pose -let’s open the heart chakra, to help cultivate better digestion so that we don’t feel stuck in life. A good connection between the third and second chakra is essential in life to get our point across in a loving but powerful way.

Method: Lie on the front of your body and next bend your legs up behind. Elevate the chest and aim to hold onto either the feet or the ankles. Raise the legs and torso. Resist the desire to poke the chin up too much. As you breathe, you allow the space for change. Hold for around five breaths before slowly releasing. Repeat a few times.

So by incorporating these yoga ideas into your exercise routine, fear won’t have the power it had. Next time you find yourself in a fearful situation, remember to tap into calm breathing, the power of the third chakra, and the balance of the heart center energy. Remember we all have courage.

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