Anxiety – Cause, Effect and Support from a Yoga Perspective  

Anxiety is all too common. You may be dealing with anxiety in your own life, or you may know someone who is. It is showing up more and more in our society, sadly even amongst our children. It appears in different ways, both mentally and physically. We can experience sleep troubles, anxiety attacks, racing minds and fear. Over time it can result in nervous problems, digestive issues, heart problems and even cancer.

It’s not that easy to keep afloat in raging seas and it’s not that easy to keep standing in a category 4 cyclone. Likewise, it’s not that easy to calm an anxiety torn mind and heart. While it may not be possible to affect the cause of our distress, we can address its effects on us physically, mentally and spiritually. We’ll share three effective techniques that you can apply in your life to help support your whole well-being. But first, let’s take a little look at the cause of anxiety.


Who is in Control?

Anxiety often stems from a feeling of lack of control.

The universal spiritual wisdom contained in the Serenity Prayer is incredibly profound and will help us immensely if we apply it in our own personal lives.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

So many things will happen in our lives and the world around us that are out of our control. Our field of control is actually very limited but one thing we do have control over is how we deal with every situation. Firstly, accepting that some things are out of my control, secondly knowing how to react appropriately and thirdly finding a happy and secure place within when the world around me is going crazy.


The Mind is the Seat of Anxiety

The mind is where anxiety is seated. From there it can flow on to affect the body in so many ways. Understanding that we are not our mind nor our body, but rather an eternal spiritual being residing inside the body, can help us have a sense of separation from our anxiety. We’re able to step back and not be so overwhelmed by it. It is not actually happening to me, the soul.

Now, let’s look at some techniques that may help us manage anxiety in our life.


Calming Yoga Breathing

The simple act of breathing can have a great effect on our troubled mind and body. The breath is like the meeting point between body and mind. If the mind is unsettled then invariably the breath is affected, and it also works in reverse. It has been found that breathing deep down to the bottom of the lungs is very soothing for the mind and nervous system and lengthening the exhalation also has a calming effect. Yogis know also that when we practice left nostril breathing for a few minutes, we start relaxing and letting go of tension.


Mindfulness Meditation

In a quiet place sit comfortably and start to watch your breathing.

Feel the flow of air into and out of your nostrils. Feel your chest moving with the breath.

Become aware that you are watching your breath.

In the same way, we can watch the thoughts, feelings and desires on the mind.

Simply step back and watch the content of your mind just as you would watch clouds passing by in the sky. Allow the thoughts to drift by without following them.

Become aware that you are watching the contents of your mind.

Whatever is going on in your mind, you are separated from it.


Calming Mantra Breath Meditation

Sit somewhere quietly where you won’t be disturbed for 10 minutes. Lightly touch your first thumb and first finger together and softly close your eyes. We will be taking slow deep breaths and add the universal sacred mantra Aum Hari Aum to our breath. Rest your heart and focus your mind on this sacred mantra while you are saying the words.

Begin by taking a deep breath in. In your mind, meditate on the sound Aum Hari Aum for the length of the inhalation. On the slow exhalation, softly and audibly say “Aum Hari Aum” for the length of the breath. Continue for 5 or 10 minutes. To complete your meditation, take a couple of deep mindful breaths and open your eyes. Let yourself relax and feel the wave of calmness that has flowed over you.

We hope you will take this ancient knowledge and apply it in your life to become free from anxiety. Namaste.



By Vrndavan Dasi
Founder and Principal of Veda Yoga Teacher Training