From panic... to prana
Panic: the familiar feeling of non-control, anxiety and racing thoughts. Prana: energy, life force and breath.
I would very much like to (in my humble experience) bust the myth that yoga makes you completely peaceful and harmonious and unstressed the whole time. Life is full on. Yoga is one tool in the box to help you: Stop. Breathe. Be…. And thus access a few more resources you have within yourself and your environment to act in the best, most powerful way you can.
This is my (just sprinted for the bus and missed it… class to teach in 20 mins) I’m about to panic swiss-army knife:
Take one breath and watch it, almost like a plant or light grow up in front of you, wherever you are. That will make you smile for being crazy! And then – watch the exhale too. Intently. Curiously. Like an unknown entity. Is it the same size as the inhale…. Or probably a fair bit skimpier (if you’re nervous system is heightened you will likely have a huge tense inhale to very small exhale…)
Alright. You watched your breath. YES. It’s going to get better. It’s possible. Now, the real stuff:
Watch 10 breaths. It doesn’t need to be serious, or any particular way… but you need to ABSORB yourself in these 10 breaths, as if they are all completely unique/never met before/never will meet again. If you are genuinely pretty frantic, you may well lose concentration before your tenth. Karma is brutal – I’m afraid you have to start from 1 again.
When you have watched 10 breaths (you can be grumpy, pissed off, smiling, frowning…. No need to fake the real feeling) NOW you count the length of your inhale to the length of your exhale. Make a ratio. No right or wrong answer. Observe exactly what is without judgment and WITH compassion. (eg. Inhale 5 beats: exhale 3 beats)
Probably feeling pretty different by now. You also may have a few people looking at you strangely or with annoyance if you stopped dead on the street or underground entrance. Or you may actually be (my common mistake) staring at someone intently while you focus on your breath, which is terribly awkward. Best to smile and look down at your feet now. Now you can choose how to direct the energy that made your heart race and your face flush and pupils dilate in the moment of panic.
You can choose to lift your energy and alertness by bringing your inhale:exhale to an equal ratio. Or if you are feeling very wired and and ungrounded; lengthen your exhale by 1 or 2 pulses to your inhale. This stimulates the calm, connect, parasympathetic nervous system.
CARRY ON Shining a little brighter. More grounded. More sure. More clear… Until the next curve ball.