Today I practiced pranayama (breath control/practice) at the Toronto CNE.
I have a fear of heights which sky rocketed when my teenage nieces enthusiastically invited me to join them on the midway rides.
Anxiety increased, as I rode the Ferris wheel up to the top – muscles tensed, my breath quickened.
Their smiling faces helped somewhat, so did practicing pranayama. I consciously slowed my breath, breathing in more deeply and taking long slow exhales, exhaling for longer than I inhaled. I could experience the tension in my muscles dissolving, anxiety lessening.
Similarly on the Alpine ride gliding above the CNE, I breathed long and slow, pressed my back against the car I was sitting in to feel more steady and grounded. I countered catastrophic thoughts with positive self talk to the point where I could look around and begin to enjoy the sights, sounds and colours of the CNE.
One of the benefits of yoga is the attention given to the breath. It can be a great resource in day to day situations. When you encounter a situation that evokes anxiety - there are many yoga breath practices that are calming and grounding. Alternate nostril breath, stair step breath and candle breath to name a few can help settle the nervous system and relax body and mind.