It shouldn’t come as news to you that asana practice is a fabulous tool for quelling anxiety. Deep breathing and meditation, movement and mindfulness all work together to calm your nervous system and tame your brain.
But sometimes even the best of us succumb to stress and anxiety. Whether it comes in the form of panic attacks, insomnia, nausea or any other of a million manifestations, there are some thoughts and emotions that even yoga can’t seem to overcome.
When you get to that state–the one where you feel like you have lost all control–it may not be asana that saves you, but it might still be yoga.
As you may know, within the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, there is a code of conduct laid out–the Yamas (abstentions) and Niyamas (observances)–that guides us in how to live the life of a yogi.
Briefly, I would like to mention the Niyama Santosa, contentment. When you are content, your happiness exists completely independent of your circumstance. When you master Santosa, nothing that occurs in your life can rock your serenity.
However, the Niyama I would really like to focus on is the tenth and most important one: Ishvara Pranidhana, submission to a Higher Power. Keep in mind that “submission to” is different than “belief in.” You can believe in a Higher Power (call Him God, Jesus, Allah, Buddha, Shiva, or any other name that resonates with you), without actually having faith in Him.
Faith, you see, is the unwavering belief that your Higher Power will always do what is best for you. That doesn’t always mean you will be happy. It doesn’t always mean that life will be easy or go the way you want it to. It means that you will have the experiences and the relationships, the victories and the challenges, that your soul needs to receive the lessons that you were sent to this earth to learn and grow from.
So what, you may ask, does faith have to do with anxiety?
Well, faith and anxiety cannot coexist in the same space.
If you suffer from anxiety, it means that you don’t trust that your Higher Power has your best interests at heart.
It is the opposite of faith, where you hand your life over to your Higher Power, and you accept it as it comes. You don’t regret the past or fear the future. You treat the present as a gift.
Faith means that even in the darkest of days, you know everything will be okay. Because it will.
Have faith, my friend.