Anxiety Help, Interviews

How Can Yoga Help My Anxiety? An Interview with a Yogi- Sandra Boozer

Anxiety is at an all time high right now.  So I sat down with Sandra Boozer, a yoga instructor, healer, and health coach, to talk about the ways the yoga can be a tool for anxiety and stress relief.

Could you tell a little bit about your background, like why and how you got into yoga?

Through the years I’ve enjoyed being an athlete and challenging my body along with my mind.  When I was in my 20’s, I began participating in triathlons.  As I entered my 30’s, I began noticing more soreness and stiffness following these activities.  I had also had our daughter which had certainly altered my life in many ways including physically.  My body seemed to want more recovery and balance, so I began taking yoga classes.  At the time there weren’t many places that offered yoga but I enjoyed some wonderful classes with excellent teachers.

At first, I approached it as only a physical practice and found myself frustrated when the class moved too slowly.  As the years passed, I began to understand the additional mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits.  In fact, yoga had become a place of comfort and healing during a difficult time in my life, a therapy that translated off my mat as well.  It took another 20 years until I decided to become a yoga teacher myself.  My goal was to teach others who may not ever find their way to a more typical yoga studio.
 

What has been your experience with anxiety both personally and in treating others?

 

I personally have experienced some performance anxiety throughout my life.   But even more, I have family members and friends who have suffered from debilitating anxiety for many years.  I became even more aware of the extent of anxiety in our culture while working with cancer patients.  Frequently, they report symptoms of both pain and anxiety.  In addition, about half of my coaching clients report having some degree of anxiety as well.

 
Although I don’t always know those attending my yoga class are experiencing anxiety,  I do know how common it is, so I incorporate techniques within the practice that may be helpful to them.   In fact, we always begin our practices with some form of breathing exercise, I cue breath along with poses throughout, and we end our practices with a few minutes of meditation.
 
 

How does yoga help with anxiety?  And do you know of any research or resources where people can learn more about how yoga helps anxiety?

By incorporating mindful breathing techniques (focus on Prana), yogis may experience relaxation, the ability to focus on the present moment, and a connection in mind, body, and spirit which all help in reducing anxiety.

 
We now have many more evidence based studies to support the many benefits of yoga on all these levels which I’ve included below. (See Links at the bottom of this page)

 

 

 

 
 
Can you recommend any specific breathing practices, yoga poses, or types of yoga that could help someone experiencing panic attacks or other forms of anxiety?
 

Yes, some of my personal favorite breathing techniques are focused breathing or breath counting,  the 4/7/8 breath, and diaphragmatic breathing.  (click on the images below to learn how)

 
 
Click Here
 
Some helpful yoga poses are bridge, cat/cow, supported fish, forward fold and legs up the wall (especially good before bedtime).  Check out the article below for more poses.
 
 
Mostly I recommend spending even a short amount of time with breathing techniques or on the mat to practice. Sometimes people think they have to commit to an hour long mindful breathing/meditation or yoga practice to receive the benefits but sometimes only a few minutes can be extremely beneficial. As people experience all the benefits they often increase both time and frequency which may evolve into a consistent foundational practice for life.
 
 
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
 

There are so many types, accessibility, and opportunities to enjoy yoga and the benefits of practicing now than ever before which is very exciting!   I encourage everyone to try different yoga experiences until they find something that resonates with them.  When they do, they also may find community with others, deeper understanding of themselves, and a mind, body, spirit well-being both on and off the mat.

 
 
Links:

Screen Shot 2020-06-08 at 10.35.23 AMContact Sandra on her website at www.iamtempio.com

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