The Connected Yoga Teacher Podcast
149: Yoga for Anxiety with Amanda Whiting
Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental illnesses in the world, with almost 300 million people globally dealing with an anxiety disorder. This means there is a chance that one or more of your students may be dealing with anxiety, or even coming to yoga to help with their anxiety. How can you, as a yoga teacher, help them and what are some of the things to be aware of? Amanda Whiting has some insights on this topic.
As someone who has been managing her own anxiety since she was two years old, Amanda is no stranger to anxiety. Yoga has taught Amanda that through asana, breathwork, and meditation, anxiety can be more manageable, and an overall sense of wellbeing is inevitable. Today, Amanda helps others work through and manage their own anxiety and mental health conditions through a variety of yoga classes, workshops and retreats, as well as free meditations, yin classes and yoga nidra.
Amanda explains what having an anxiety attack feels like, and anxiety is a uniquely personal experience for each person. She shares how yoga can be a part of the prescription for mental health, why loving kindness and self-compassion is so important, and even what happens if someone has a panic attack in your class. Amanda approaches this sensitive topic with openness and heart, and this episode is full of so much useful information that all yoga teachers can use.
[5:22] Shannon introduces her guest for this episode - Amanda Whiting.
[6:49] What is the work Amanda does now, and how did she get there?
[9:57] What does having an anxiety attack feel like?
[12:28] Amanda shares her thoughts about why anxiety exists.
[16:20] How has Amanda's experience with anxiety from such a young age informed the work that she does now?
[17:50] Amanda and Shannon discuss why "love yourself" is so difficult in practice.
[19:25] What are some ways we can change the neural pathways that make it difficult to love and connect with ourselves?
[23:51] Amanda shares her spin on the loving kindness meditation.
[25:51] How does loving kindness and self-compassion come in when dealing with anxiety?
[31:27] How can yoga teachers go about offering yoga for anxiety?
[34:11] Anxiety is a uniquely personal experience for everyone who has it, and it can manifest in different ways and forms.
[37:24] Why is yoga helpful for anxiety, and what are the other prescriptions for anxiety?
[43:20] What can yoga teachers do if someone has a panic attack in class?
[49:49] For the majority of people, anxiety is not something that can be fixed or cured or that goes away entirely, but something they live with and manage.
[52:20] Connect with Amanda via her website or social media to find out more or learn how you can work with her.
[53:14] Shannon shares some of the upcoming things to look out for.
Loving Kindness Meditation:
Bring your attention to yourself - without any parameters or exceptions - you as you are in this moment.
With this awareness of you, repeat to yourself:
May I be at ease.
May I open to what arises.
May I know that I am enough.
May I love myself just as I am.
Quotes from this episode:
"[Anxiety] can be a byproduct of everything."
"We live in this right-away society, and I think that's really a blessing and a curse."
"We have so much ability to love others and have compassion for others, and yet, somewhere along the way, it's become that that's not okay for us to have for ourselves."
"If you are someone who is struggling with accepting and loving yourself and having compassion for yourself, you need to focus on you."
"Even though anxiety has become way more noticeable, it is still really not understood."
"I don't allow the anxiety anymore to control my life, but that doesn't mean that it's not part of my life."