Overcoming the Fear: Jean Itier, Yoga Therapy teacher at Santosa
Have you ever been afraid of not being able to keep up with the pace of life? If so, you are probably wondering if there is a way to free yourself from this fear and finally live a life aligned with who you truly are. As long as we are dominated by our fears, they will limit or even prevent us from fully expressing our creative potential.
In order to find emotional freedom, we must first find the origin of our fears. Our very first relationship with them can be found in the critical years of infancy. Imagine a hungry baby who starts crying to attract her caretakers’ attention. If everything goes well, her needs will be met and she will be fed, cuddled and changed.
However, if for whatever reason, the caretakers are unavailable or there is a delay in meeting the baby’s needs, she will start feeling anxious. She will think that the outside world is an unsafe place and will, therefore, interpret this delayed gratification as a life or death matter; if she is not fed, she instinctively knows that her existence is at risk. Consequently, an interesting question to ask yourself may be: What or whom was I afraid of in my childhood?
“Understanding the origin of our fears is a good starting point although insufficient if we wish to overcome them and have access to our inner potential. We must take it a step further and shift our perception of the world in order to change our behaviour“.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras offers an interesting insight on how to reach emotional freedom. The Kleshas, or afflictions of the mind, are often represented as a tree with at its roots Avidya (lack of self-awareness) and four branches on which are found Raga (our desires and passions), Dvesha (our aversions), Asmita (our ego) et Abhinivesha (our attachment to life, our fear of death). According to this model, we cannot have access to our inner world (our unconscious, our emotions, our thoughts) without first being self-aware.
Through the practice of Yoga, we are able to calm our mind in order to observe and face our fears. This is best achieved through a stepped approach: the practice of postures along with Ujjayi (type of breathing); pranayama (breath work) and meditation.
Here are a three practices to help you take your first step towards your inner world and hopefully free yourself from your fears:
Practice 1: Asana (postures)
The practice of back-bending postures such as Dhanurasana (Bow), Virabhadrasana (Warrior 1), Dvipada Pitham (Half bridge), Bhujangasana (Cobra) are ideal to build self-confidence.
Practice 2: Pranayama (breath work)
Practise “square” breathing for 5 minutes:
- Inhale: count up to 6;
- Hold : 6;
- Exhale: 6;
- Hold : 6
If counting up to 6 is too much for you, only count up to 4. What matters is that you choose a number which brings you to your limit without forcing.
Practice 3: Meditation :
Bring your attention to your forehead and imagine a beam of light coming out and projecting an image in front of you. This image, this film is yourself completely freed from all fears. Observe your posture, is your body relaxed? Is your chest, your heart centre open? Your breathing, is it fluid, long and steady? Is your face smiling? Is there a positive emotion that is present within you? Joy, calm, happiness?
Now, imagine that this projection is slowly coming towards you to finally merge with you. Feel your posture, is your body relaxed? Is your chest, your heart centre open? Your breathing, is it fluid, long and steady? Is your face smiling? Is there a positive emotion that is present within you? Joy, calm, happiness?
Feel the change that has just settled into your body and mind. Know that you can always go back to this feeling of freedom, openness, relaxation, and joy.
Take a minute to savour this moment and when you are ready, open your eyes to mark the end of your practice.
Yoga crossed Jean’s path when he injured himself while practising Capoeira, the Brazilian martial art and dance form.
On the road to recovery, he discovered the therapeutic aspect of Yoga and eventually managed to heal his long standing injury. When he realised that there was more to Yoga than just a physical practice, he decided to study the philosophical aspect of the practice.