"Worrier to Warrior" a workshop to soothe the anxious mind with Lisa Dumas.
I am inspired to share this post in regards to a holistic approach to relieving anxiety. I myself have struggled with depression and anxiety. On my own journey of healing I've focused on holistic approaches including yoga. I've been practising yoga on and off for the past 10 years. For little under a year now I have been practising daily at Semperviva Yoga studios in Kitsilano. Where I have been attending Lisa Duma's heart centred hatha yoga classes. Lisa embodies a nurturing and loving presence in her voice and being. She's offering a yoga workshop in connection to soothing anxiety. I was surprised when she shared with us in class that she had deeply struggled with anxiety and even panic attacks. I thought to myself, wow has she come far and done the work!
On this journey of self discovery, healing and support for one another I hope this article speaks to those that may be suffering and are looking for a new approach to feeling relief. Know that you are not alone and their is community to support you. I asked Lisa the following questions to share more of her experiences of coming into balance through various techniques including yoga.
Questions offered to Lisa “Worrier to Warrior”
How did you first discover yoga as a path to healing anxiety?
I lived with constant worry, fearful thoughts and panic for many years but I avoided taking any action to heal. I kept my suffering a secret, in the shadows, because I was ashamed of not having it all together, of not being able to control fear and the scary physical symptoms it caused in my body. When my daughter was born, I knew I had to get better for her. I opened to the possibility that I could live another way. Yoga kept coming into my life, but it scared me; it made me feel emotions that were uncomfortable. Finally, while living in the rich yoga community of Encinitas, California, I decided to try a class at a small studio. It felt safe and right. The teacher asked us to consider why we came, what we needed. A voice within immediately spoke "peace". The focus required to concentrate on my body and the attention to my breath offered me an experience of being present, free from incessant negative internal chatter. I couldn't remember the last time I felt that way. I had a sense that everything was going to be ok. I was finally ready to accept the call of yoga. I immersed myself in a committed practice and soon learned why yoga can be helpful for anxiety. Deep, full breathing calms a taxed nervous system, and the attention to the postures rebuilds a loving relationship with the body, which, for those experiencing panic attacks can start to feel like an enemy that can't be escaped.
What are some helpful techniques you recommend in your practise to calm the anxious mind?
I have a morning ritual that supports daily calm. First, I become present in my body. One of the most helpful techniques I use is bringing awareness to my body's connection with solid ground. I write in a journal to empty the contents of my mind, I read a few passages of something inspiring, I offer my body full, long breaths while I move through postures that I feel called to that day. Movement of some kind is important if anxiousness is present. It helps to move emotions and energy. Then I sit in meditation and contemplation. If time is short, my practice is abbreviated, though it's a priority for me to spend this sacred time with myself. Throughout the day, I check in with myself often, noticing my breath and reminding myself to ground my body.
How often did you practise yoga and meditation before you began to see changes in your anxiety levels?
For me, I experienced an improvement immediately. It was the right fit at the right time. With yoga, I was taking an action that created such a calming shift within that I became confident that I had the power to heal myself. It helped me to become present enough to question the thoughts that were driving the worry. The most powerful truth I discovered is we don't have to believe our thoughts!
Do you recommend any dietary changes for those struggling with anxiety?
I hesitate to make any recommendations as everyone is different, but for me, at the height of disordered anxiety my iron, magnesium and B vitamin levels were all very low, and now that I am in a more integrated state, they are in balance. I know I feel better when I'm not eating a lot of sugar or drinking alcohol.
Could you share some words of encouragement for anyone suffering with anxiety? To lead one to hope in healing, faith in oneself and courage to do the work.
I would love to offer what I would have liked to hear. You are not alone. So many struggle with life altering anxiety and there's no shame in it. You are a sensitive being who likely tries very hard to be "good" and that can be exhausting. Your body is highly intelligent and is always working toward balance and healing. What your mind labels as scary sensations is your body communicating with you. Listen. Ask for help and open up about what you are going through. Shame can't live without secrets. Know that all of your thoughts can be questioned. Remember you have a right to feel your emotions. Sometimes, anxiety is caused by a fear of feeling. We have been taught to be pleasing and compliant so we repress our emotions, dissociate from our bodies and distract ourselves with outside forces that may be worsening our symptoms. Find tools that bring you back into your body and talk with someone who can help you get to the root of your worrisome thoughts and beliefs. Don't allow anxiety to define you. It is possible to topple fear and claim the life you were meant to live.
Lisa Dumas is a Vancouver based Yoga Teacher and a Yoga Coach who is available to meet one on one with those who strive to release fear and unhelpful thoughts and step into who they are meant to be. If you’d like to register for Lisa’s upcoming workshop, “Worrier to Warrior” a workshop to soothe the anxious mind on January 29th 2017 1pm-3:30pm at Semperviva Yoga studio you can visit them online at http://www.semperviva.com and visit Lisa at http://lisadumasyoga.com