Yoga For Easing Anxiety Q & A

Yoga for Easing Anxiety: a Workshop on December 3

Q & A with Angeline Johnston

What can yoga contribute to healing anxiety?

Yoga offers specific tools— things you can DO for yourself— that can heal at the physical,
energetic, and psycho-emotional levels. Certain yoga practices help us to observe and get
feedback from our body and our mind. These awareness practices aid in knowing, accepting,
and transforming our experience. If we’re in the dark, too busy to pay attention, it’s hard for
transformation to happen. Yoga can help us get centered and relaxed right now.

What are some specific things you’ll be offering in the workshop?

We’ll be drawing from the following: physical body awareness exercises, breathwork, guided
visualization, restorative poses, specific hand mudras (gestures, positions), and some teachings
from classical yoga that include beautiful, simple mantras (“mind protections”) you can say in
English. We’ll also discuss the yoga practices of devotion, love, reverence, and awe.

I attended your workshop last winter. It was great. Lots of information! How will this one be different?

This workshop is longer. It will be more experiential, because we’ll have time to savor. My goal
is for people to leave with at least 2 practices that they connect with and plan to implement in
their daily lives.

It seems like what you’re describing is a workshop that could address more than anxiety.

Absolutely. This workshop is not a replacement for professional mental health care, and yet
study after study shows the positive results yoga practice has in cases of anxiety, depression,
PTSD, and more. Plus, these time-honored practices are beautiful ways to cultivate positive
states of mind if that’s what is present!

My teenage daughter wants help managing her anxiety. Can she come?

Yes. This workshop is appropriate for teens and adults. Teens are smart and usually pick up on
this stuff quickly.

Lastly, what is your background? Why teach this workshop?

I wish I could have learned these practices when I was a kid. Actually, I did receive meditation
instruction when I was 8 years old, and meditation has helped me a lot! For many of us, it’s a life
practice to learn to feel at ease in the world. There’s the saying: “We teach what we want to
learn.” Plus I’ve done a lot of formal study and training over the years. But healing is not just an
intellectual process. Healing is something we participate in— mind and body, heart and soul.
That’s where yoga comes in.

Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra Q&A with Angeline

Q: What is “Nidra”?

A: Nidra means “sleep”, but we stay awake during the Yoga Nidra process. It’s really delightful— especially for anyone who has sleep issues and therefore doesn’t get the wonderful rest that’s expected from a good night’s sleep. Guided deep relaxation can help us heal at a cellular level, the way normal sleep does. It’s said that 1 hour of Yoga Nidra equals 4 hours of regular sleep.

Q: What should I expect from a Yoga Nidra session?

A: Sweet rest, and a connection with oneself that is the result of the skilfull use of language and a receptiveness to positive suggestions. Guided relaxation of the body. Words— ideas and images— are used to draw a person out of their busy mindset and into a timeless state of deep being. This can be a lot of fun, or it can be moving, or it can simply be relaxing. You may have insights about yourself during or as a result of Yoga Nidra.

Q: So what exactly will we do for one hour?

A: We’ll do a bit of gentle movement and get in touch with our breath. We’ll set an intention for this powerful practice. Then each participant will relax physically, as in savasana, and let the magical inner journey begin. I will offer suggestions and directions, but sometimes you might wander down your own dreamy trail for a while. You’ll be guided back!

Q: What is your background? What do you bring to Yoga Nidra?

A: Fundamentally, Yoga Nidra is about learning— to become more self-aware, to relax, to unlearn old patterns. I’ve been teaching since I was a kid. Plus I learned to meditate when I was 8 years old. I’m a trained hypnotherapist, yoga teacher, and school teacher. And I appreciate the magic of language— whether it be through poetry, or an inspirational speaker, or just telling someone we love them. It could also be the colorful language of dreams, which comes through in Yoga Nidra— sometimes in powerful and surprising ways.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about Yoga Nidra from your perspective?

A: I really believe that we already have all the wisdom and peace and happiness we need within us. Yoga Nidra is a practice that helps remove any blockages to the free-flow of these qualities, of our life energy. I often ponder how we settle for this or that, when in reality I am sure that we are all capable of amazing insight and transcendent states of bliss— and it’s all inside us— covered, perhaps, by a very thin veil.

Q: What should I do to prepare for the Yoga Nidra session?

A: Between now and the session, start thinking about something that seems to be in your way— a fear, a hang-up of some sort. Or even a health issue. You could also see if some kind of intention (this is called “sankalpa” in Sanskrit, the language of Yoga) arises. On a practical level, wear layers. Bring your own eye pillow unless you want to use one of ours. Bring a soft blanket as an extra layer if you’d like— or even a pillow from home. Some people have said they’re going to wear their pajamas and go home and sleep. Great idea! I’d be ready to have really interesting dreams!

Replacing Chronic Pain with Chronic Yoga

What would you risk giving up in developing a chronic case of yoga? Chronic crankiness? Chronic creakiness? Chronic cough? I met a new student today– one with scoliosis. I told her that yoga does help scoliosis, but only if you KEEP DOING IT. I told her I gave up chronic back pain for chronic yoga. I gave up chronic low blood pressure for chronic yoga. I also gave up chronic depression and anxiety for chronic yoga. If a cure is really fast, it probably won’t last. You deserve better. How about chronic energy? Chronic freedom of movement? Chronic strength? Of course yoga doesn’t cure everything, nor does it cure most things terribly quickly. But it does work. Yoga works. Yoga is magic. But you are the magician. You hold the magic wand.

Abracadabra, get on your mat.

Be open to surprise, and willing to let go. When I was told I was developing arthritis in my spine at a very young age, I  tried everything, and nothing worked– except yoga. Feel good, or at least feel better. But above all, feel that you have some control over your life. Chronic pain, whether its origins are organic or traumatic, can run your life. Developing strength and flexibility through yoga asana (postures) and healthy breathing patterns frees up energy in our bodies, allowing us to create our own healing. There’s one caveat: you’ll need to keep at it. Don’t stop practicing yoga once you feel better. Keep going: from healing and recovery to deepening practice, maintaining strength and range of motion in the joints, and preventing future pain.  Most likely you won’t want to stop, because you’ll enjoy the practice, the learning, and the results– which are profound and long-lasting, if you allow them to be. It’s up to you.