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Yoga for Anxiety: Meditations and Practices for Calming the Body and Mind

Yoga for Anxiety: Meditations and Practices for Calming the Body and Mind

by Mary NurrieStearns, Rick NurrieStearns

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Many of us face daily demands and overwhelming difficulties that cause seemingly uncontrollable feelings of anxiety and fear. When you feel this way, it's healing to calm yourself and to reclaim your sense of innate goodness and well-being. For centuries, yoga has offered a quiet retreat away from life's pressures and has enabled us to reconnect to our inner wisdom


Many of us face daily demands and overwhelming difficulties that cause seemingly uncontrollable feelings of anxiety and fear. When you feel this way, it's healing to calm yourself and to reclaim your sense of innate goodness and well-being. For centuries, yoga has offered a quiet retreat away from life's pressures and has enabled us to reconnect to our inner wisdom and peace.

Regular yoga practice has been proven to calm stress, enhance concentration, and reduce the symptoms of anxiety. This book offers meditations, mindfulness practices, self-inquiry exercises, and yoga poses that soothe anxious feelings and develop mental clarity. Before long, you'll free yourself from the anxiety and fears that hold you back and learn to live with a more open heart and resilient mind. Just as yoga helps you feel more at home in your body, the mental and physical practices in Yoga for Anxiety help you increase your sense of contentment in life.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Feeling anxious is so much a part of modern life that we almost forget how limiting it can be. But not these authors. They offer us clear information and techniques for dealing with anxiety on a daily basis. They teach us what the brain does when we are anxious, and what we can do about it, by changing the focus of our thinking and getting us on the yoga mat and meditation cushion for time-honored practices. —But mostly they give us readers the confidence that we can transcend our anxiety and lead richer and more enjoyable lives. Highly recommended for yoga teachers and others interested in the whole picture of anxiety, including the spiritual angst that usually accompanies it. I especially enjoyed the personal stories scattered throughout the book."
—Judith Hanson Lasater, Ph.D., PT, has been teaching yoga since 1971 and is author of eight books, including Yogabody

"Writing in a clear, step-by-step format, Mary and Rick NurrieStearns provide simple practices to help identify and counteract negative thoughts, induce relaxation, develop awareness, reduce stress, and heal anxiety. The authors create a connection with the reader by using images and examples from everyday life that resonate with everyone’s experiences. Yoga for Anxiety integrates modern psychology with basic yoga practices, including postures, breathing, mindfulness, and meditation. In the early chapters, basic information suitable for beginners provides the foundation for more advanced material as the book progresses. For anyone suffering from anxiety, Yoga for Anxiety is a great place to begin the journey to recovery."
—Patricia L. Gerbarg, MD, and Richard P. Brown, MD, coauthors of How to Use Herbs, Nutrients, and Yoga in Mental Health Care

"Yoga is one of the best-validated therapies in the entire field of integrative medicine. It is especially valuable because it addresses all we are: body, mind, and spirit. Yoga for Anxiety is an excellent guide for anyone seeking greater serenity, peace, and fulfillment, and who isn’t?"
—Larry Dossey, MD, author of Healing Words and The Power of Premonitions

"By combining traditional psychology with the deep teachings of yoga, Mary and Rick NurrieStearns help you move past anxiety in order to experience your true nature. Yoga for Anxiety clearly shows that when you are willing to mindfully face and release your anxiety, it actually becomes a doorway to deep inner freedom and happiness."
—Michael A. Singer, author of The Untethered Soul

Product Details

New Harbinger Publications
Publication date:
Unassigned Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

Read an Excerpt

many years ago, we hiked a beautiful trail in Utah’s Zion National Park, called Angels Landing. The trail started off with a strenuous hike up a number of switchbacks on a paved path. After topping the paved switchbacks, we entered a canyon with a gradually inclining, shaded path. Just as we thought we were nearing the end of the trail, the trail turned and revealed that we had even steeper switchbacks ahead of us. We were determined to reach the top of the trail, because descending hikers seemed thrilled to have experienced its breathtaking view and we wanted to see what everyone was talking about.

The path became increasingly intimidating and scary. Heavy chains were bolted into the rock walls to hang on to. On the edge of a cliff, the trail was only a foot wide with a sheer 1,200 foot drop to the river below. Hikers on their way back down encouraged us to go on, declaring that the view from the top was marvelous. Sustained by their support, we continued. We haltingly climbed the same way everybody does, putting one foot down in front of the other and going breath by breath by breath. Once we reached the summit, we smiled and breathed sighs of relief, yet we both knew that we had to go back down the same way we had come up. We worried our way through our lunch and then began the return trip. During our descent, there were moments when we focused more on what might go wrong and less on where the ground was solid beneath our feet. We had to stop from time to time, remind each other to breathe, remember that we were okay, and then begin again.

Sometime after our Zion trip, Rick resolved to walk through the forest near our home as a daily meditation. Having long relied on his steadfast and steely mind to get him through life, he sometimes found that it cut him off from his aliveness. Putting one foot in front of the other helped Rick slow down and connect to himself, which propelled him into a powerful healing journey because he was then better able to feel and be touched by the meditative practices he had done for many years.

Taking one step at a time has helped enable Mary to live inside of herself. Her thoughts used to race ahead of her body, worrying about what would happen next and what she needed to take care of. It was as if her mind lived in a different time zone than her body. After the Angels Landing hike, she silently recited the words, “Step here,”during her morning walks, because it focused her attention on walking as she walked. Gradually her body and mind started moving together as one, making it possible for her to integrate what her yoga practices revealed to her.

Putting one foot in front of the other is so simple that it can become mechanical, allowing our minds to go elsewhere and be out of sync with our experience. As a consequence, we forget what we’re doing, who we are, and where we are. All this forgetting causes painful anxiety. Healing ourselves from this anxiety depends on our remembering again.

We’ve been on a yoga journey together since we met, twenty years ago, and this book is our way of sharing what we’ve learned. We’ve both suffered from anxiety and found that yoga practices help us to remember who we are, to connect to ourselves, and to engage more fully in life. We don’t claim scholarly knowledge about yoga, but we’ve experienced its real and lasting benefits. Yoga has brought profound healing to us and to the people we work with in retreats, seminars, and counseling.

While yoga practices are empowering and safe, they are not substitutes for medical care. Sometimes yoga practices are most effective as supplemental self-care to counseling and medical advice. Professional treatment, including medications, can be helpful, especially if you have a history of trauma or intense anxiety. If you’re receiving treatment for anxiety, please consult with your therapist or doctor before doing the practices in this book.

We teach only what we personally practice, so know that we’re with you as you try the practices covered in this book. And along the way, remember to go step by step—breath by breath by breath.

Meet the Author

Mary NurrieStearns, LCSW, RYT, is a psychotherapist and yoga teacher with a counseling practice in Tulsa, OK. She is author of numerous articles on psycho-spiritual growth, coeditor of the book Soulful Living, coauthor of the book Yoga for Anxiety, and has produced DVDs on yoga for anxiety and emotional trauma. She leads transformational meditation and yoga retreats and teaches seminars across the United States.

Visit Mary online at www.personaltransformation.com.

Rick NurrieStearns, is a meditation teacher, coauthor of the book Yoga for Anxiety, and coeditor of Soulful Living. For ten years he was the publisher of Personal Transformation, a magazine focusing on psycho-spiritual growth. He has been immersed in consciousness studies and yoga practices for nearly four decades. In 2009 he survived a near-fatal airplane crash that resulted in chronic pain. He credits the practice of meditation with helping him navigate through extreme pain and the journey of recovery.

Visit Rick online at www.personaltransformation.com.

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