JoBo

Yoga induced anxiety?

5 posts in this topic

Hi all,

This is a strange phenomenon that I've noticed in my practice that has me a little distraught to be honest, so I hope somebody may have some helpful advice.

I've been practising yoga by myself at home for the past couple of years, with brief breaks here and there. Candace has been my main source of knowledge in the field, so I feel confident enough in what I'm doing. Yoga has been a great aid in finding emotional balance for me as someone who's been struggling with depression for many years, however, there have been several instances when I feel so much worse mentally after a practice, that sometimes I have to stop mid pose and leave it for the day or maybe even the week. This usually happens when I'm already somewhat stressed and during a pose - any pose - I will get a sudden anxiety attack and my heart will start racing, my breathing is all over the place, and no matter how hard I try to focus on calming my breath I just can't. I get a hollow feeling in my chest and no amount of deep and slow breaths can help it.

There are some poses that I've noticed to regularly have an emotionally negative effect on me, like Camel or Shoulder Stand, so I tend to avoid them if I'm already stressed. But yesterday for example I was in Warrior 2 when the anxiety came out of nowhere, which has never had this effect on me, and I just couldn't calm myself down, and nearly 24 hours later I still can't calm my breathing. Sitting in poses that have the most relaxing  effect on me work, meditation doesn't work, a cup of tea or glass of wine doesn't work.

Has this happened to anyone else? Do you have advice on how to overcome this problem? Am I doing something wrong? Or am I just so thoroughly stressed that there's no running from this?

I'd appreciate anything you might have to say on this, as I don't know what to do anymore, and the one thing that's helping me with my mental health seems to now make it worse, so I'm kinda desperate.

Thank you all for your help in advance!
Jo

YogaByCandace likes this

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Hey there, have you ever heard the coping method to "surf the wave" or "ride the wave" with emotions? The idea is to sit with that emotion you are feeling, but not let it overtake you or give in to your first reaction (e.g. run away, numb oneself with substances). I think anxiety could be exponentially mounting on you because you (like me!) depend on the yoga for mental health. It's easy to overreact negatively if something goes amiss on what we normally depend on for relaxation.  Instead, I view yoga as an opportunity to feel.  No expectations on feeling better afterwards, just observing the feeling and not running away from it.  

I think the discussion in the other posts that Larry helpfully linked are more about emotional release but not necessarily triggering an anxiety attack. That sounds more crippling than what has been described as emotional releases.  But see if reading those articles linked give some perspective on "feeling".  

Good luck! I know I would react the same way as you if I felt anxiety coming "out of nowhere". It may actually be out of somewhere, but, don't worry about trying to figure it out - just sort of get to know it well enough so it doesn't build fear in having you practice yoga again.

I don't know if this will help you at all, but for me, whenever I put pressure on myself to "get better", it just made my anxiety worse or made me not sleep because I would try to solve or think of ways to solve it.

YogaByCandace likes this

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Thanks to both of you for your advice. I've had a look at the "Emotional release during yoga class" topic and although there's some useful information there I can't quite relate to most of the issues it covers there. I've had emotional releases and I completely understand what people write about, but this is something completely different and I can't explain it better than my attempt above...   

I'll try reading up about it more and have a look at the articles shared in the discussion board. Thanks again for your help.

YogaByCandace likes this

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This used to happen to me when I was going through one of the worst periods of my life - I'd lost three family members right in a row and looking back, was in a state of shock and had major PTSD from it all. I went to yoga thinking it'd help but I had the worst anxiety of my life, to the point that I'd have to leave mid-class. I also experienced this during my yoga teacher training any time I had a lesson given by our main instructor. His style wasn't my jam, but he was the most knowledgeable person EVER. He had a very wry sense of humor and was somewhat disengaged with us. He was not emotional, and I felt so scared during his teachings (even though I had absolutely no reason to be), that I often felt sick and anxious during his practices, and nearly always had to take a break. I'd maybe sit in meditation so you can see what is bubbling up - figure out what's at the root of the fear - is it just a particular pose (doesn't sound like it), is it the teacher? Are you just going through some tough stuff right now and have a lot on your mind? Can you come up with a mantra (just breathe, be here now) that you can use when anxiety starts to bubble up? Can you develop some strategies for dealing with it? (Position yourself near the door in case you need to leave? Let the teacher know ahead of time that you're dealing with some stuff and might need to come into child's pose in the middle of the class? (The teacher probably won't even care, but sometimes just speaking it aloud takes the pressure off and more often than not you may find you won't experience the anxiety the more you talk about it.) Keep us posted! xo

yogafire likes this

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