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Monthly Archives April 2016

Yoga Therapy For Anxiety: Jane’s Story


Jane (not her real name) can’t make a decision. When she tries to park her car, it’s a blessing when there is only one spot to choose from. Jane is intelligent, has friends, and a family who love and support her. She has been to 2 psychotherapists for several years each. She is self-aware. And she describes her daily life as difficult because her anxiety wells up over every little choice she is confronted with.

After initially meeting with Jane, I thought yoga therapy could be useful in mitigating her anxiety. I decided to work with her on every level of the 5 koshas. Koshas are the five aspects of the Self. When in balance they are an ally. When unbalanced, they shield us from our true nature and cause suffering.

We developed practices for each of these five koshas and her needs. Specific asana (movement) for the body with the power of breath. This helped calm her down. For her, a decrease of anxiety by 25% is what she felt. This was getting somewhere—so far so good. With the benefits of breathing, we added a breathing practice for her nervous system and pranic body. She liked this and actually reported an easier time making a decision next time we met. Chanting and meditation practice followed. This took some time to establish and find the right chant for her conscious mind. One that reduced negative thinking took a few tries. Once we found that the meditation techniques for anxiety came easier, she began to really change. Her anxiety over decisions decreased dramatically. She said she was realizing that making the “wrong decision” wasn’t the “end of the world”. Jane had surrendered to the fact that she wasn’t in control of most things. This is the last of the 5 koshas: the peace that comes with surrender.

Does Jane walk around in a constant state of bliss? No, of course not. But her dramatic shift in the quality of life is inspirational. I wanted to share this story as an inspiration to all that suffer from anxiety. The elegant system of Yoga Therapy offers many of the tools needed to heal ourselves. If you suffer from anxiety and would like a referral to a Yoga Therapist, email us here.

May we all be free from suffering,


What is IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome and How Can Yoga Therapy Help

sunsetmeditationIrritable Bowel Syndrome or “IBS” is essentially a nervous system condition. Even though the symptoms of IBS are in the gut area; Gas, bloating diarrhea, and constipation are the most common symptoms. There are not any issues with the intestinal tract, rather a brain-gut communication issue. One way to think about it is that the muscles in these areas are spasming or not functioning properly. This condition effects possibly 40 million people in the U.S. alone.

The key to working with IBS is to lessen anxiety. Yoga, as we know, is well suited for this. Many people with IBS present with other indicators of anxiety, however, it is chicken and egg. Is it the IBS causing anxiety or anxiety causing IBS? In terms of treatment, it may not matter what is causing what since the system must be balanced and anxiety lessened to reduce symptoms.

In clinical practice I’ve found it useful to assess the individual and determine what type of practice will lead to less anxiety. In terms of directly soothing nerves in the gut area, it is best to let the breath do the work. I have seen it suggested that certain poses are best for IBS. I believe it’s more the breathing practice and matching a style of practice to the individual’s needs that produces results.

Below is a general practice that incorporates breathing practice, forward bending, back bending, and twists in a combination that will stimulate the gut-brain connection without irritating the digestive tract. This practice can be modified to suit individual needs but is a good starting point. 

May this information be helpful for all those suffering.

Interested in helping others as a certified therapist? Check out yoga therapist training courses that we offer at Breathing Deeply.

IBS Practice

PDF Version: IBS Practice

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