I’ve been thinking about anxiety a lot lately and about how to deal with it – it can be so overpowering at times! The following are my thoughts and suggestions on how to get control of this troubling mental state.
Sometimes anxiety is just a big hairy beast that sits on your chest. Nothing will make it go away – it is too big and ominous. What to do? In this situation, the best you can do is to just accept it. It just is what it is. Get present in THIS moment and just acknowledge it. Okay, I’m anxious. This is anxiety. Fine, I’m anxious. Then breathe. Notice exactly what anxiety feels like in the body. Observe it like a scientist, without judgment. From there continue to investigate the present moment. Tune into your senses: look at your environment, notice the sounds, smell the smells, notices textures and temperatures. This is the present moment. Does your anxiety have to do with this exact moment? Acknowledge that you are doing the best you can. Try some diaphragmatic breathing which is good for these anxiety beasts. Know that before long, the situation will change. Everything changes.
Understanding the importance of our breath is a key part of any successful yoga practice. In my class on the breath, I share lots of information about the physiology of breathing and how yoga’s breathing techniques actually change the body’s inner chemistry.
One key area to understand is cellular respiration, and particularly how oxygen and glucose are metabolized into units of energy called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This is the energy you use to climb a flight of stairs! Apparently our cells have several methods of converting glucose into energy, depending on whether oxygen is available or not. In short, more ATP, or energy molecules, are generated when oxygen is present – 34 molecules to be exact. So when we breathe shallowly, and are not providing as much oxygen to our blood, cells resorts to glycolysis which produces only 2 molecules. So, more oxygen, more energy.
This is a very simplified explanation of something that is far more complex. And it’s important – especially for cancer patients – to understand what’s happening in the body and how we benefit when we engage in yoga practices.
If any medical practitioner or researcher would like to add to this discussion, in layman’s terms, please contact me.
Now let’s all take a big breath!