Anxious about being at a class at the studio?
Anxiety is a prevalent state in the world we live in today and often our yoga practice can be a remedy away from anxious thoughts and stresses. However, sometimes the reality of coming to the studio and practising amongst others can be a source of anxiety in itself. After the pandemic, we know many have found it challenging to integrate back into social spaces, particularly finding our practice again amongst each other… If this is how you are feeling, know you are not alone! It is an adjustment, finding our focus on our mats again while in a class where everyone else is doing their thing. Today's blog post, though, should offer some advice on the matter, and help you hone your internal gaze so you can enjoy class with as little anxiety as possible 🙂
5 ways to modify your practice if you’re anxious in class
1. Close your eyes during practice
You may not be able to do this at every stage, especially if you're working on an asana that requires you to balance, but closing your eyes at points in your practice is a sure fire way to switch off from the outside world. We humans are very visual creatures, and we often get distracted by what is going on around us, especially by what we see! Closing off from this is a simple way to make sure what anyone else is doing in class or just your general surroundings don't pull you out of the focus you are already cultivating by being on your mat. Like closing your eyes when you are going for a nap, it also encourages your body to slow down and relax, hopefully alleviating you from any anxious energies that may be arising as you move.
2. Keep a focal point (drishti)
You will often hear a teacher referring to your drishti as a cue while teaching. If you aren't already aware of what this is, your drishti refers to a focus point for your gaze, often used in balancing postures as we bring our eyes to a single spot to encourage stillness and stability in our bodies. In Sanskrit, the word can also refer to a more metaphorical gaze, such as a vision, point of view, intelligence or wisdom. It's about training your mind to notice and stay with a single thing, all with the idea of there being a sense of 'oneness' that we are connecting to as we practise yoga in all its aspects. You may wish to engage with your drishti as a way of steering your thoughts away from anxiety and the manifold nature of our busy lives, and towards one, calming spot - whether that's something you can physically see or something in your mind's eye. Your drishti will help you find and hold your attention somewhere.
3. Practice moving from moment to moment
This may sound incredibly simple but it may be one of the hardest things to do - being present in ourselves as we move around our mats. Anxiety is essentially the antithesis of presence, as it plagues our bodies and minds with things outside of our immediate experience. It's totally OK to be pulled in and out of presence throughout your practice - it's natural that our awareness works on a pendulum and you should absolutely not be hard on yourself if some days it's particularly distracted by other things. However, when you do notice yourself being pulled out and into anxiety, do try and draw your awareness back to the present moment. This may be a matter of focussing on what your body is doing, how it feels in a certain posture, how you are breathing and what parts of you your breath is travelling through. Throughout class, your teacher will be offering up cues of presence to help you with this - take lead from them and remember, no matter how loud the anxieties may be - you always have a choice to come back to yourself.
4. Accept that distractions are completely normal too
That being said, it is also important to keep kindness front and centre in all of these tips and to remember: no matter how experienced you might be at practising presence, distractions are completely part of our lives. We all experience them! It may even serve you to let your mind wander with your thoughts, to explore them as you move, and maybe once that route is exhausted, you may be able to find a little more stillness and silence within yourself.
5. Keep a soft internal gaze
We suppose what this entire blog post is trying to stress is to keep your internal monologue open, forgiving and kind. Anxieties are enough of a voice in your head without the one that casts judgement for you having these anxieties as well. Stay curious about what is going on for yourself, listen to when something feels right or when it doesn't, and steer clear of being too hard on yourself when the thoughts creep up and you can't quite clear them away. Your mat is your safe space, and the classes we hold here at Trika are safe spaces to explore your inner world… hopefully, you feel a little more equipped to join us soon, and move through the very normal feeling of anxiety… together 🙂
Some class suggestions for anxiety
We hope our tips and reassurance have helped! For some extra guidance, here are some weekly classes we'd recommend attending if anxiety has been holding you back from coming to the studio:
- Monday 7.30pm Hatha Yoga
- Tuesday 12.30pm Yin Yang Flow
- Wednesday 7.30pm Calming Yin
- Thursday 7.30pm Gentle Restorative Flow
- Friday 12.30pm Energise + Release Vinyasa
- Saturday 4.45pm Restorative Yoga
- Sunday 7.30pm Rest + Wind Down with Nidra
You can book your spots for class here. If you want to talk through anything to do with classes, anxiety or you would like more suggestions, please don't hesitate to get in contact with us! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org <3