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Yoga for Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Help your students use yoga to address anxiety—both its symptoms and its root causes.

By Timothy McCall, M.D.

Keep in mind that anxiety can be a useful symptom, and the ability to get anxious has survival value. Thinking about potential threats, and planning how you might lower the risk or respond appropriately, can be extremely useful, even lifesaving. Going over the same worry dozens or even hundreds of times, when the iterations bring no new insight, isn’t helpful and can make you miserable.

This is where yogic philosophy can be useful. It teaches that, ultimately, no one can control what’s going to happen. Despite your best efforts, some bad things undoubtedly will occur. All you can do is try to plan intelligently, give your best effort, let the universe take its course, and, when it does, respond as well as you can. When you realize that you ultimately don’t have control over the future, it can take the pressure off—and that alone may reduce anxiety.

Take care of the present, said the great 20th-century master Ramana Mararshi, and the future will take care of itself.

Dr. Timothy McCall is a board-certified internist, Yoga Journal's Medical Editor, and the author of the forthcoming book Yoga as Medicine: The Yogic Prescription for Health and Healing (Bantam Dell, summer 2007). He can be found on the Web at www.DrMcCall.com.

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Reader Comments

Paul K

Breathing techniques and exercises are becoming an important part of almost all healing disciplines. Deep breathing in particular has been shown to have many health benefits, including reduced stress, lowered hypertension, increased focus, and reduced headaches. There are simple breathing techniques that can help you eliminate panic attack symptoms and live a calmer life.

mara

i love doing yoga... for me has changed my mind and I feel different about the people around me...I feel compassion, calmness, peace and tranquility and much more
Namaste

Arcot

You cannot switch off ! nobody can! but we can observe the sensations in different parts of the body that we are bound to experience because of the nature of the energy flow and blockages in different parts of the body.

Blessings

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