For most of us, finding the balance between responsibility, recreation and restoration can be pretty difficult.
As someone who has survived the hardships of an anxiety disorder, a difficult childhood, drug addiction and an accidental overdose, I understand the importance of stress reduction and prevention.
Those of us who suffer from anxiety do so because we are victims of overthinking. We tend to overanalyze situations, constantly evaluating the pros and cons (primarily the cons). This creates fear-based projections about events, people, problems or possibilities that have not yet occurred.
However, by actively participating in activities that challenge our fears and rewire our thinking, we can systematically reduce stress, depression and anxiety.
I've learned throughout my healing journey that true strength is derived from vulnerability. And what makes anyone feel more vulnerable than fear? Because it's when we face our fears that we can really overcome them. I've realized that challenges are just a natural occurrence in life and there is nothing we can do to prevent them from happening. However, how we react to them will ultimately determine just how impactful they will become.
Through the practice of yoga I've learned that in order to get out of my own way, I had to find comfort in being uncomfortable. And there is one aspect of asana that I particularly love and find quite useful for this very purpose — inversions. There are many benefits to a regular inversion practice, including the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system. This produces a sense of calm and balance. Other benefits include the reversal of blood flow in the body, which helps to improve circulation.
Inversions also strengthen your body's immune system by activating the lymphatic system. Since your lymph nodes function as a result of gravity and muscular contractions, inversions can help facilitate this process into the respiratory system, where your body is often the most susceptible for viruses and viral infections.
But for me, inversions taught me to face my fears.
I've always been afraid of falling, which is probably why I am severely afraid of heights. However, that fear of falling (or failing) can expand well beyond the physical realm — to the fear of disappointment. And although I still have not quite mastered the art of inversions, I have in fact mastered the art of trying. I've come to accept that falling is a part of the learning process and that facing our fears will only make us better. But in order to learn how not to fall, we have get past the fear of doing so.
Here are my five favorite inversions that have helped ease my anxiety symptoms over the years and face my fear of falling. Use these poses to balance out your ups and downs, by going upside down! Just be sure to warm up with a few rounds of Sun Salutations before trying these poses.