How to overcome fear with yoga
I love this time of year, I really do. As we speak, the front of my house is covered in Halloween decorations, from cobwebs with spiders, to spooky ghosts and hanging lights. I love getting into the spirit of the season, with my two young boys getting excited to dress up and go trick-or-treating, I find myself becoming excited as well.
That being said, with the coinciding need to watch scary movies, It, for example, I say this with great affirmation, there is no way you could drag me to see that movie. Am I afraid to see the movie, hell, yes! Do I have a desire to overcome this fear and go and see the movie anyway? Hell, no!
But when it comes to facing other fears in my life; challenging myself to speak to other people (I’m a bit of an introvert and tend to be shy); working up the courage to go skydiving, or even trapping a spider under a cup and releasing it outside; now, these are all fears that I have a desire to overcome.
I find that there are two things in my life that help to give me strength and motivate me to push past that little voice in my head that tells me I’m out of my comfort zone. The first, are my kids, spider or no spider, if my kids are freaked out, I need to step up! And the second is, yup, you guessed it, yoga.
Yoga has a way of influencing the rest of our lives, by increasing our self-confidence, strengthening our courage, and even pushing us beyond what we view as our “limits.” Whether we decide to go to a different yoga class or decide to move from forearm balance into a full-on scorpion pose, the point is, we take the step and we go for it.
But how is it that we are able to expand our practice in yoga, push past our fear of falling over in scorpion, but find it difficult to face our everyday fears out in the “real” world?
Perhaps, it’s the simple fact that there are other yogis around us going through the same experience as us; perhaps, it’s because we are able to say, hey, it’s just yoga. I mean, isn’t yoga meant to be practiced so that we get better, even if we falter the first hundred times?
So, what if we thought of our experiences in our lives in the same way we view our yoga practice, that falling down doesn’t mean failure, but is a way to practice and get better? What if we learned from our moments of falling down in life and didn’t actually call them failures? What if we learned to use fear as a motivator to reach our goals?
Now, that’s a concept I think we can all use.
So, how does yoga help with motivating us to overcome our fears and take action? Much in the same way yoga promotes self-love and gives us confidence, as we conquer challenging poses on the mat, we rise up to take on the challenging situations we find ourselves in, in real life.
By pushing ourselves to go further in yoga, we are training our mind to think the same way off the mat. We are telling ourselves that we can accomplish things despite our fear; we can even learn to use that fear to help us see ourselves more clearly and what we want our end goal to be.
Trying to explain this need to be alone and still for a moment, without the surrounding bombardment of questions from others, was something many, including my parents, didn’t quite understand.
It was then that I found yoga; or maybe, it found me? Yoga was a great way for me to have my alone time and essentially pass it off as exercise, although I am well aware that it is.
Somehow, when you’re doing your yoga practice, no one is asking you to tell them about your day; no one is asking you why you are hiding in your room or accusing you of being anti-social. Because being enthusiastic about exercise is perfectly acceptable; being an introvert or having anxiety from a social situation, isn’t.
Yoga helped me to come out of my shell and it is still what I turn to today when I need that moment to recharge, especially now that I am married and have two kids. It’s there to give me strength, to help me overcome my fear and anxieties, and it helps me break out of my introverted nature.
So, if you want to know how to overcome fear, all you need to do is simply remind yourself that fear is what prevents us from becoming more than we already are.
Is it scary to step outside of our comfort zone? You better believe it. But if we don’t, we hold ourselves back, back from new experiences, back from expressing our true selves, and back from doing what we love.
An American broadcaster, Soledad O’Brien, has a wonderfully clear view of what fear does to you; she says:
I've learned that fear limits you and your vision. It serves as blinders to what may be just a few steps down the road for you. The journey is valuable, but believing in your talents, your abilities, and your self-worth can empower you to walk down an even brighter path. Transforming fear into freedom - how great is that?
Transforming fear into freedom is exactly how we should look at it; by embracing our fears we push past them and reach the other side, the side that lets us be exactly who we were meant to be.
I urge you to think about what your fears in life are and challenge yourself to find a way through them. Much in the same way you have embraced your yoga practice, whether by challenging yourself to a new class, trying that new pose, or maybe training for the USA Yoga Championships, use this same courage to push past your limits and your fears, off the mat.
Does this mean that we won’t be afraid anymore? No, it doesn’t. But remember, we never really stop being afraid, we just learn to live our lives, despite our fears. Often, what we are most afraid of is the Universe’s way of telling us to push forward; that we are on the right path.
I may never watch scary movies, and spiders may still always give me the heebie-jeebies, but I do know that without yoga, my life would not be the same as it today. I would not be the same. I would be trapped in a prison with fear as my warden.
Ready to overcome fear and kickstart your yoga practice now? Check out the Urban Fit Yoga schedule for healing, empowering, and transformative support - on and off the mat.
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Urban Fit Yoga posts relevant, inspiring, and nourishing tools to support you along your healing journey. We believe that the benefits of yoga can extend far off your mat and we want to help!