Anxiety & Tree Pose


Anxiety is tricky to talk about.

There are people for whom anxiety is a debilitating thing, an outrushing of emotions they can’t control. Sometimes it shuts them off from the world. It may have an initial, external cause like a traumatic event. It may be inexplicable.

When I talk about my anxiety, I don’t mean any of that. Anxiety may play a role in whether I do or do not do something, but it’s never kept me from my life. It certainly can affect my day or trouble me at night, but it’s usually an approachable beast won over by quiet music or a good story. I’m not overly gregarious by nature, which I’ve said here more than once, so I sort of have to gear up for some social interactions. I’ve worried, like most do, about how I’m perceived, how I’m remembered, and whether I’ve wronged someone.

(Sometimes I worry about long posts I write regarding race.)

On the whole, though, I’ve gotten better through the years. I still don’t love calling strangers, but I can do it, especially when I’m on a particular mission. I may live in a rural area, but I make sure to socialize and now even get a little stir-crazy when I don’t. I still worry, but I also know 1) what’s happened has happened 2) most of us are just worrying about our own shit anyway.

And when I’m rattled, I know what to do for myself to make it better. Sometimes I read or watch a movie. Sometimes I go for a walk or do yoga.

Yoga for anxiety invariably involves at least one balance pose, usually tree pose.

I’m really bad at tree pose.

Balance beam in gymnastics was never really my thing either.

I also suck at ice skating.

You probably see the pattern.

I’m a wobbler. I don’t think it’s that my standing leg can’t support me. It’s that in some way I’m not fully committing to the pose.I don’t panic exactly, but maybe I don’t really believe I can do it. The raised leg is quick to come down. The arms fly out. And I have to try again or give up.

Usually, I try again, but there’s more than a little cursing.

The point of doing a balance pose when you’re feeling anxious is to change your focus. Because tree pose requires your full attention, you stop worrying about whatever you were worrying about because you’ve fixed your consciousness to the physical demands of being a tree.

For me it works out a little differently. Instead of worrying what I was worrying about, I tend to worry about tree pose.

It’s effective in its own way.

How do you overcome anxiety? What’s your tree pose?


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