In the perspective of Energy Medicine Yoga, anxiety is caused by an imbalance in the element of fire, which is governed by the meridians of heart, pericardium, small intestine, and triple warmer.
In summer, which is the season of fire, many people feel like they’re burning out of control, full of anxiety for everything they need to do, fix, and participate in. This can feel like a wildfire burning out of control. It doesn’t occur only in the summer, but certainly that time of year is when it can be exacerbated, because of the long days, and the feeling of needing to “squeeze everything in.” There are some very easy ways to help decrease this uncomfortable feeling and turn it back towards its balance of feeling inspired.
- Inhale, and sweep the arms up overhead.
- Exhale, and draw the hands down in front of the heart into the triple warmer/heart mudra. Put the palms of the hands together; place the thumbs in the center of the chest, which is the heart center, and the tips of the index fingers in the hollow notch at the base of the throat (see photo). This position will lift the elbows up and encourage you to lift the heart center instead of caving it inward.
- Your index fingers are resting in a triple warmer neurovascular point, which helps to calm the triple warmer meridian, taking stress out of the pose, as well as connecting the triple warmer to heart energy through the heart chakra, bringing them into communication and balance.
- This has the magical effect of calming you down almost instantly.
Another powerful tool, when the anxiety seems to be overtaking you, is to do a breath called Ujayii. It’s like you’re fogging up a mirror, but you do it with your lips closed.On both the inhale, and the exhale, this breath helps to slow down a racing heart, one of the side effects brought on by anxiety.
If you have the space to do the next exercise, you may find it to be the most helpful of all. I have one client who suffered debilitating anxiety, and when he felt an attack coming on, he would go to the men’s room and do this exercise, and immediately feel calm and centered.
The exercise is called “Bringing Down the Flame” and it helps to harness that feeling of out of control fire, and seat it in the solar plexus, where you want the fire to be. This is the fire in the belly. This is the place of power and inspiration, burning up your toxins, feeding your willpower so you can accomplish and achieve what you need to, and inspiring you to burn brightly and be a light in the world.
- Stand straight up straight, with your hands on the front of your thighs. Take a deep inhale and exhale with the sound haaa. Feel a grounding energy building in your hands and going down your legs into the earth.
- Inhale and circle your hands overhead, bringing them together so that all the fingers and thumbs are touching. Exhale with the haaa sound and bring the thumbs down to the top of the head. Think about pouring the fire down into the spinal column, the core of the nervous system, as well as the energetic core of the body.
- Release your hands from the crown of the head and circle them around again on an inhale. Exhale with the sound haaa and bring the fingers and thumbs together, this time with the thumbs touching the middle of the forehead.
- Again, release the hands and circle them around, exhaling with the haaa and bringing the thumbs to the heart center.
- Inhale, circle the arms again, and bring the thumbs to the naval. This is where the fire needs to be seated, in the naval center. Exhale with the haaa sound, keeping your thumbs there and tent your fingers so the pinky edges are resting on the pubic bone. Inhale, exhale, and flatten the hands onto the low belly, keeping the index fingers and thumbs connected. This position is empowering the fire to burn strong over the first three chakras, where we generally have the densest layers of energy.
- Inhale and smooth your hands down the inside of your legs, then down and off the insides of the feet, shaking them off in front of you. Then exhale, with the haaa sound, drawing the hands back up the body and end with them on your thighs again, helping to ground you and your energy.
Posted by: Lauren Walker
Adapted from Energy Medicine Yoga: Amplify the Healing Power of Your Yoga Practice by Lauren Walker (Sounds True, Oct. 2014)
Lauren Walker is a teaching assistant for Donna Eden as well as a certified energy medicine practitioner and a senior student of Para Yoga creator Rod Stryker. She started the yoga program at Norwich University and now teaches Energy Medicine yoga internationally. Join Lauren for her workshop The Lost Art of Yoga at 8 Limbs Wedgwood on Sunday, June 28.