How Yoga, Breathing and Meditation can help with Anxiety.
Anxiety and worrying can lead to many health problems, including stress, thyroid, high blood pressure and even diabetes. It can be bad for rheumatism, arthritis, low libido, asthma, digestion, stomach problems and depression and can be related to a number of other health issues. Anxiety is often an unpleasant sensation we don’t like. Constant anxiety can even shorten our life! Luckily there are ways to combat this through mindful meditation, breathing exercises and many Yoga practices. I will look at the causes of anxiety and how it works to undermine and de-stabilise us, and then focus on how it can be best overcome, and even used to help us become stronger, more confident and resilient.
What is anxiety? Anxiety is similar to fear in terms of the physical symptoms experienced, butterflies, raised heart beat, sweaty or trembling hands, excess perspiration, overt self consciousness, blushing etc and yet unlike fear where there is an actual threat present giving us cause to be afraid, anxiety is when there is a dark morbid fear that something bad may happen at some time in the future.
Anxiety has evolved in our brains over millennia, and is a very useful survival strategy. It helps us be aware to be on the lookout for a wolf hiding amongst the sheep, or a snake hiding in the long grass. We then proceed carefully, and check the situation constantly and are ready to react quickly if be. When we feel stressed like this our bodies produce Adrenaline, a hormone which rapidly runs around the body to prepare us for fight, flight or freeze.
Nowadays our society has been made safe from sabre toothed tigers, snakes and wolves, and we don’t need to worry like this, but our bodies react in the same way when there is a much lower level stress such as having to meet the boss, speak out at a work meeting, or give a presentation, talk to work colleagues, pay a large bill, join a new class or a number of similar scenarios.
Anxiety may be felt before the event, during it, or after it, or any combination of these. We may spend days worrying about some future event, not knowing what it will be like. Because we have not built up experience of succeeding in this type of situation, we may worry about it beforehand. We may have a low sense of self belief, a negative self image, or a harsh inner critic telling us we will fail. There may be a story attached that we tell ourselves, ‘Oh I’ve never been very good at this’, and if we focus internally on the anxiety of a previous trauma, anxiety can build up.
If we dislike the sensations we are feeling, we can then become resistant to this anxiety and this resistance builds up into a fear of the fear. This ‘fear of fear’ is far worse than the original fear. We dislike the anxiety so much we push it away, trying with all our might to avoid these uncomfortable feelings of anxiety, and we may begin to feel that we are abnormal. Because we resist the anxiety, our resistance causes our experience of it to change and it becomes bigger. 98% of our thoughts about a certain situation may be untrue, but because we are becoming paralysed by the fear, we believe our deluded thoughts and negative ideas that there will be a bad outcome, and fear that we are not good enough or that we are bound to fail.
Our brains have been likened to Teflon and Velcro. Any good news seems to slip away and hardly be noticed by our Teflon non stick brain and good news just slips out of our minds. However any bad news or information is likely to stick in our brain as if it is made of Velcro, and we cannot seem to stop thinking about it. This is why bad news sells newspapers. Any new information that is unsettling lodges in our brains and we cannot forget about it. Good news just doesn’t seem to register with us. The world is still turning, we are well and all our family are well, we haven’t run out of food or medicines, the birds are still singing and it is a lovely day, yet we may have a dark foreboding that something might happen because of a mulititude of imagined possible threats.
There are a great many possible threats to our well being, from the macro society ones such as Climate Change, Coronavirus or Brexit, to more personal threats on a micro level, such as that we will fail a course, become ill, lose our job, fail in our key relationships, not be able to pay our bills, make a fool of ourselves, or simply forget our key and get locked out!
There is also a fear of missing out (FOMO) in modern society, which may cause us to consume endless social media, news, radio, TV, newspapers and be in constant contact with family members and friends on whatsApp or Instagram. Our Screen Addiction has been exploited by Hi-Tech companies who make money out of our anxieties. Constant screen viewing can cause brain fatigue or brain freeze, when we feel that we can’t think. If we get brain freeze in a social situation it might be embarrassing or we may feel we are ‘revealing’ how stupid we are, or think we are. Although of course others are actually very tolerant. As Dale Carnegie once said ‘other people are much more interested in themselves than they are in us.’ But our social anxiety is rooted in our fears of what others may think of us, or being found out to be ignorant or stupid. We have to learn to be wary of screen over-use which has serious effects on our health .
Catastrophizing about future events is another common way of over-reacting, ‘help help, the planet is going to self destruct!’ Or it could be more personal - ‘if I don’t do this very well, I might lose my job and have my home re-possessed!’ Our brains often seem caught up in imaginary movies where all our worst fears materialise and we feel vulnerable and exposed. We fear being thought crazy by others, or being found out to be a sham. We fear being exposed as not very clever, inept or geeky.
Inside our heads there may be a very harsh inner critic. This may be a follow on from a difficult parent who was constantly shouting or bullying us, telling us off and saying like my Dad sometimes said: ‘You blithering idiot! What have you done now?’ (!) In meditation we can learn to notice our thought patterns and become more aware if we have a harsh inner critic. Once we spot it, through meditation we can learn to turn it down or even off, and substitute in a kind and encouraging inner ‘guardian angel’, who says ‘Well done you, you got here, you’re doing well, one step at a time.’
There are many different occasions when some of us may feel social anxiety, and most of us feel some degree of anxiety at some time or other. We may be fully functioning competent successful human beings for most of the time and then out of the blue a lightning bolt of anxiety may suddenly strike. It seems random and inexplicable sometimes, but it may be related to our experiences as a child, or our lack of experience in just a certain social situation, and things we are not used to. It may be connected to feeling of being put on the spot, in a group situation or in a one to one. It may be quite mild or it can be quite debilitating like a panic attack. Social Anxiety is self consciousness on steroids!
When is social anxiety experienced? Some of these scenarios put forward by Dr Ellen Hendriksen, may ring a bell.
I worry about what to wear for an important event.
I find it hard to comfortably talk with my colleagues at work.
I find I dislike being the centre of attention.
I get tense if I am alone with just one other person.
I worry about expressing myself in case I am awkward.
I find myself worrying I won’t know what to say.
I get nervous with people that I don’t know very well.
I worry I’ll say something embarrassing.
I feel awkward making a phone conversation when others can hear.
I feel uncomfortable eating or drinking in a public place.
I never know whether or not to say hello to a person I don’t know well.
I feel anxious acting, performing or giving a talk in public, or to a large group of people
I feel difficulty speaking up sometimes in a new group or class.
I feel embarrassed talking to people I find attractive.
I feel anxious about sitting a test or an exam.
I get anxious if I am hosting a party or an event.
I feel anxious if I have to talk to someone in authority, eg my boss or a policeman.
I feel embarrassed if I have to take something back to a shop.
I feel self conscious if I have to call the waiter over in a restaurant.
I feel anxious if I am on the phone to a new person.
I feel awkward if people are listening to my conversation on a bus.
I feel anxiety about giving a presentation to work colleagues or on a course.
I am anxious about sending an email to get work.
I feel awkward joining a new class, course or group.
At a party, I worry I will run out of things to say.
I worry no one will like me, or they will think I am stupid, geeky or awkward.
I worry people will see through me and see I am a fraud.
I feel awkward, tongue-tied or have difficulty making eye contact sometimes.
The good thing is that most of us only experience some of these on some of the above occasions. Most of the time our anxiety works to help us to be empathetic, compassionate, conscientious, hard working and successful people, who are good at what we do. It is what helps us to have high standards in our day to day lives. Being anxious causes us to think ahead, plan, structure, analyse our own behaviours and thereby become successful. Most very successful capable people have at some time in their lives been anxious. Being anxious on occasion is a good thing! Let’s embrace it!
But when the lightning bolt of anxiety strikes, what can be done? If you are feeling anxious in the days or weeks before an event, it can help to do physical movement such as yoga, Tai Chi or Chi Gung. This helps to quell the rising butterflies, helps the adrenaline to disperse naturally in your body, and gives you a feeling of strength and self-confidence in yourself. You feel you are doing something.
Movement such as Chi Gung, slow flowing yin yoga, Mindful walking or Tai chi are all ways in which we can unwind the body and help it to return to homeostasis after a high dose of Adrenaline. When we get the anxious thought and start worrying this hormone surges around our body causing all these unwanted symptoms, butterflies, sweaty hands, nervousness and anxiety. If we can calm our mind through doing gentle physical slow movements, this hormone will reduce and after a time (perhaps half an hour to an hour) we will begin to feel back to normal.
Chi Gung for instance, Turning the Millstone, (spinning and twisting), Separating the Clouds, Turning to Look at the Moon, Rowing the Boat, Rainbow Dance and so on are all very useful if one is has a feeling of dread and anxiety about some future event, and one knows one’s fears are really unfounded. They involve lifting the arms, turning, twisting, looking up and bending down, and concentrating on the breath as it is done. Co-ordinating the breath with the movement helps to bring the mind back into the present moment with the body, and to be more aware of other sensations in the body, not just the anxiety. These exercises are also strengthening which helps us to restore self confidence. They also require patience which helps build self confidence and encourages resilience. Chi Gung also helps us to put things into perspective. There is a gradual ebb and flow of sensations in the body and these movements help us to tune in to our internal universe, and become more aware, more relaxed, more centred, breathe more deeply and calm our worried mind.
Chi gung could be done in combination with self soothing thoughts such as, “I bet everyone is feeling a bit worried about this, it’s not just me. And just think, this time next week it’ll all be over! I’m really enjoying how confident I’m feeling about this challenge. I expect I’ll be fine.” Positive self talk could be the one element missing in our yoga routine! Positive self talk at the moment that the anxious worry is thought, can help us to avoid the harsh rush of Adrenaline so common with anxiety, and stop the unpleasant feelings arising in the first place. We can think: ‘Im OK, I’ve got this! I’ve done this before. Well done Me!’
Self soothing talk can be very helpful, at the same time as slow gentle breathing. We can whisper out loud to ourselves - “I . . . let go . . . of this fear . . . .” or “I’m letting go . . . of all this . . . and relaxing now”. Or say self-soothing things to ourselves in our head in the day or at bedtime: ‘I’m . . . letting go . . . into sleep!’ Concentrating on the out-breath and encouraging it for a few breaths to become longer and deeper can help us to relax.
What to do if our Anxiety suddenly strikes at a time when it is not convenient to do Yoga or Chi Gung, or there’s no time for self soothing thoughts?
Pranyamas can help enormously to quieten the mind and calm the body. Conscious Breathing for instance involves four parts –
- Inhale and allow the abdomen to expand, (Abdominal expansion).
- At the end of the abdominal expansion, allow the chest to expand outwards and upwards, (Chest expansion).
- Once the ribs are fully expanded allow the expansion to be felt in the top of the lungs, right into the shoulders and the collar bone, (Clavicular expansion).
- Exhale slowly, and relax the lower neck area, the upper chest and the abdomen. Follow each breath with a focussed mind every minute step of the way.
This complete yogic breath encourages the mind to calm down, increases oxygen intake, calms the nervous system and creates an environment where meditation can begin. It can also be done though in the middle of a social event, or when one realises one is getting anxious. Just take a moment to take stock of how you are feeling, take a deep breath, focus on listening well to the other people present and wait for your anxiety level to drop as you breathe. A subtle mudra in your hands such as the chin mudra, or Pushan Mudra can help to distract you from your own anxiety and help you to focus on others.
Anuloma. The lengthening of the out-breath slows the heart rate down and also lowers the blood pressure. The mind and the nervous system are calmed. The subsequent in- breath also deepens and lengthens in the process. This can be a useful way of taking a pause in proceedings, such as when one is beginning to feel overwhelmed in a social situation, or before an event. You can either use the hand in Vishnu Mudra to close one or both nostrils, or if this is not appropriate, just slow the out breath down yourself using the abdominal muscles. Anuloma can be useful to give oneself time to think of an appropriate response to a situation, rather than just reacting in the habitual way. Tara Brach calls this the Sacred Pause. It creates a moment when one can choose whether to react in the habitual way, or whether to respond more appropriately.
Ujjayi breath as we do any flows in yoga that we are drawn to do, will of course help to calm and focus the mind. Counting up to ten or down from 27, is a good way to distract the mind from worrying, and helps to keep the focus on the breath. Counting the Ujjayi breath can be done whenever the anxiety seems strong, even if one is not doing yoga at that moment. It can be done with micro yoga movements of the toes or feet, or with a mudra in the hands such as Chin Mudra or Pushan Mudra . The aim here is to distract the brain temporarily from the anxiety thoughts, or anxiety symptoms, and focus on either the breath, the counting or another point of focus such as the nose, a candle or a flower. It would be possible to do a very quiet Ujjayi breath, whilst focussing on what someone is saying in a social situation, just using Ujjayi to maintain your calmness and composure. Focussing outwards and inwards here is a useful way to distract the mind from worrying about what others may think of you, or your own performance. The Ujjayi breath, humming bee breath, Lion breath, Nadi Shodana and so on, and all help to still and quieten the mind, bringing calm and ease. They can be used in a variety of different situations to ease anxiety.
Mudras are hand positions that are held for a certain length of time, maybe just a few seconds, or up to fifteen minutes. Chin Mudra, Vishni Mudra, Pushan Mudra, Jnana mudra and Prana mudra are all useful at times, and can be used to still the body, focus on the breath, quiet the mind and release tension. Namaste Hands at the chest during very slow mindful walking is also a very useful way to calm the body and the mind, and so reduce anxiety.
Mantras such as ‘So Hum’ can be used with the pranayama, saying ‘So’ on the in breath, and ‘Hum’ on the out breath. This just helps to keep the focus on the breath, and so quietens the mind and allows the body to relax. Just saying ‘In’ ‘Out’, with each in and out breath helps, or saying as Thikh Nhat Hahn suggests, ‘Deep’, ‘Slow,’ ‘Calm’, ‘Ease,’ ‘Present Moment’, ‘Wonderful Moment’. This helps to shift the focus deep into the body, and to discover one’s own true inner Joy and Happiness.
Restorative Yoga is another way in which yoga can be used to help with anxiety. Judith Lasater’s book ‘Relax and Renew’ is a marvellous inspiration to read, and she suggests ways in which to really nourish the body, the mind and the spirit. Through self compassion, looking after the body’s needs, keeping oneself warm and allowing time for a true relaxation throughout the body, this is a wonderful way to restore health, harmony and healing. This can be seen as a link between meditation and more active yoga, since one may be in an inverted posture, but holding it for a certain length of time, and allowing the body time to recuperate whilst maintaining an inner awareness of the field of sensations arising and passing. Iyengar’s considerable use of props is another way to practice restorative yoga. He suggests a host of props which can be used to help a variety of health conditions, through meditative relaxation in inversions and twists using tables, chairs, benches, cushions and bolsters.
Yoga Nidra is another area of Yoga where there are opportunities to conquer anxiety. Swami Satyananda Saraswati suggests using the Sankalpa or intention/resolve as an instrument of change, at the beginning and the end of the Yoga Nidra. Once breathing, stillness and total relaxation are established, he suggests that yogis are encouraged to choose a sankalpa which will help them to find a positive way forward in their lives. During this deep relaxation the mind is very receptive, and any positive suggestions that are made here are listened to by the deeper subconscious mind and absorbed. He suggests using a sankalpa which helps you to be more balanced, happy and fulfilled. A useful Sankalpa could be: “I am balanced, happy and fulfilled!” This place of deep relaxation is a place of deep inner self healing. In our modern lives we often do not relax enough to enable complete health. The deep sense of inner peace in Yoga Nidra helps our bodies to really relax and it is only then that the restorative self healing processes can begin. We need a lot more of this peace, stillness and relaxation in our lives to feel perfect health and inner happiness.
Saraswati draws attention to our threefold tensions. Whether you think too much or you don’t think at all you accumulate tensions. Whether you work physically or you don’t work at all, you accumulate tensions. Whether you sleep too much or you don’t sleep at all you accumulate tensions. Whatever food you eat you accumulate tensions he says and these tensions accumulate in our muscular, emotional and mental systems.
Muscular tensions are easily removed in the deep physical relaxation of yoga nidra. Emotional tensions that arise from dualities such as love, hate, profit, loss, success or failure are more difficult to erase. However a deep yoga nidra can tranquilize the entire emotional structure of the mind. The mental tensions are the result of excessive mental activity. He says the mind is a whirlpool of fantasies, confusions and oscillations. These accumulate in the body and from time to time they can explode causing anger, sadness depression or irritability. This all arises from the accumulation of mental tensions. Again he recommends Yoga Nidra which enables us to ‘dive down deep into the realms of the subconscious mind, releasing and relaxing mental tensions and re-establishing harmony in all the facets of our being’.
Meditation is another route to this deep inner healing place which is so restorative to our wellbeing. The Buddhist Loving Kindness Meditation is a way there, through establishing stillness, silence and a deep relaxed breathing pattern, and then asking:
May I be safe? May I be healthy and happy? May I be at peace?
This is then extended further, by asking the same questions thinking of loved ones, then thinking of a neutral person, and then thinking of someone we have difficulty with, and then thinking of all humanity and all living creatures, including our beloved planet Earth. These questions are usually asked once the practitioner has established a steady and deep breathing, and has reduced physical, emotional and mental tensions. Through focussing on the in breath, and following it all the way, every step of the way, in, and then following it every step of the way out, there will gradually evolve a unity with the body and the mind, and with the here and the now. (Yoga means Union). This spacious awareness and aliveness is a most enchanting place;, the body, mind and emotions can physically relax and become calm, and a deep inner contentment, joy or Samadhi can be found. Anxiety reduces by itself. It is a place where one can in the Buddhist tradition of Insight Meditation delve into a process of self enquiry.
Martine Batchelor in her book ‘Let Go, a Buddhist guide to Breaking Free of Habits’, talks of the amazing potential for insight and self growth offered by meditation. She describes Anxiety as ‘a strange feeling stream. It is an inner agitation that makes us feel uneasy and creates unpleasant vibrations in our whole being. . . . In an unpredictable situation we feel on edge, constantly ready to jump. Even when we are out of the dangerous situation, it will take some time for the whole system to calm down and to feel safe’. And sometimes we feel anxious for no obvious reason, there seems to be this feeling of worry and concern about doing the right thing, not being out of place, doing too much or too little. We need constant reassurance from others that we are ok and that everything is ok.
Batchelor suggests meditation as a tool, and also acknowledges it is not the only tool, to help with this. Feeling stable and grounded is one of the keys to counteracting an anxious mood. When an anxious mood or feeling emerges she suggests seeing yourself an standing solidly on the ground or sitting firmly on a chair, and trying to be with this feeling without exaggeration or proliferation. Become friends with the jitteriness. Do not be afraid, you can be with this. You don’t need to push it away, just allow it to be, to exist, and explore how it actually is manifesting in your body, out of interest, like a scientist researching symptoms. Notice the wave like motion. It is not exactly the same from one moment to the next. It changes and fluctuates. It may oscillate from a stronger feeling, to a lesser one and then back again. Do not be afraid; allow the sensations to exist without pushing them away. ‘Try to ride the wave of feelings skilfully like a surfer riding a wave in the ocean.’
There are points of similarity between Buddhist theories on meditation and more mainstream Cognitive Therapy. Mark Williams, John Teasdale and Zindel Segal, who developed a treatment for depression through MBSR and MBCT mindfulness meditation talk about the benefits of a pragmatic approach to treating anxiety and depression through meditation, incorporating acceptance and self compassion, and developing a commitment to self-responsibility. They deduced that MBCT would be more effective with the ‘types of depression not so much brought about by unpleasant events, but by prolonged rumination or worry’ which of course is what a lot of anxiety is. And Buddhist teachings also lead us towards the same goal, through the following suggestions.
The Four Great Efforts as taught by the Buddha:
To cultivate conditions so that negative states that have not been created yet, do not arise. To let go once the negative state is present. To cultivate conditions so that positive states have the possibility to appear. To sustain positive states once they are there.
During the MBCT 8 week course, participants are taught various tools of self awareness, mindfulness, enquiry, concentration, with an emphasis on awareness of sensations in the body through mindfulness meditation, as a means to take the focus and energy away from the negative mental ruminations or worries and anxieties that combined with low moods, will trigger a depressive state. Having done this course, I found it fascinating to discover so much about myself through mindful meditation, and to learn skills and techniques which help me to become aware of thoughts, feelings and emotions, and to be able to watch them with interest, neither pushing them away, not grasping hold of them, but allowing them to rise and fall, ebb and flow and watch them dissipate in time. Through these methods, one is encouraged to explore, accept and let go of one’s negative feelings and thoughts, and recognise and build on good feelings, increasing one’s capacity for joy and nurturing one’s ability to accomplish things of value and meaning.
Even though one is practicing meditation, a feeling that is unpleasant may still arise, such as an anxiety, irritation or sorrow. However through creatively engaging with whatever feeling arises and through weakening the power of the disturbing emotions, these unpleasant episodes are soon over, leaving one able to smile, feel humble, and learn for instance from having been lost in the anxiety habit once again. Martine Batchelor also recommends we notice the story line that accompanies disturbing emotions, and see if we can let go of that story line. Allow our body to become spacious and stable, firmly grounded on the floor. She says, ‘remain interested, but not self obsessed. Be non-judgemental during our day as thoughts, feelings and sensations arise in our body, and explore what each one brings’.
Mindfulness training allows us to de-centre, to see our experiences from a different perspective. This change from keeping our experience centre stage and our personal sensations in the background, to one where these are reversed, and our bodily sensations are in the foreground, and our experience in the world is in the background (as we withdraw our senses from the external world,) and this can bring about a huge shift. It can allow a new vantage point, allow greater clarity and in time, can enable greater equanimity. Christina Feldman says, instead of feeling stressed, sad, in pain, driven, or carried away by addictive impulses, or suffering, we can recognise and hold these states in our awareness, and say ‘Ah, here is stress, sadness, suffering. . . or here is anxiety again’. This may mean that we do not have to be the person we believe ourselves to be. Just as our mind is shown to be a process, so our sense of self we can discover is also a process, impossible to pin down to just one definition.
Feldman says, ‘Over time we learn new ways of knowing, and we develop wisdom as we come to see first that our experiences including the experience of a fixed self identity are impermanent’. She goes on to say that mindfulness develops our capacity to ‘discern and investigate the state of our mind in the present moment’. It helps us to ‘recognise unhelpful patterns of anxiety, agitation, aversion. Just because some of our patterns have a long history, it does not follow that they have an equally long future. As we learn to see through our thoughts, we learn to see a thought as just a thought, or a feeling as just a feeling, or a sensation as just a sensation’, then in this process we develop a capacity for flexibility rather than rigidity, for responsiveness rather than reactivity. Whereas reactivity is she says, ‘rooted in our past history, and our imagined future experiences’, responsiveness is ‘rooted in our capacity to engage with the present moment just as it is, free from the burden of association’. This means that one can then acknowledge one’s feelings, ‘Ah here’s my old friend anxiety again,’ and not have to be completely taken over by it. A healthy mind is a mind that is a friend that we need not fear.
Through the peace, stillness and enquiry of meditation the mind becomes healthy, relaxed and strong again, and this is genuinely characterised by a sense of well being, ease and resilience. We will then be able to meet with adversity, difficulty or affliction with balance and compassion. ‘Mindfulness is not indifference to the suffering of others, or in our world, and one may still be touched by sadness, disappointment, loss, illness or separation, but we come to learn that this is not the end of the story. We can continue to breathe, to move through life and to love, without being broken’.
‘Worrying, ruminating, analyzing problems in an overly conceptual way’ which is what a lot of anxiety really is, can sometimes produce a lot of hot air, but not much nourishment or insight. Learning to sit with ourselves, and just be with whatever is present in this moment, can bring about clarity, compassion and really help us to find solutions to our problems. Those who do sit regularly will know and understand this, and feel the benefits, but it is hard to explain to a novice exactly how meditation works, and why. Perhaps it better suits some people or people at a certain time of their life. It is quite difficult if not impossible with small children around! I know for me it has been profoundly beneficial on many levels, both the physical relaxation aspect, the inner healing and restorative side, and the way the sense of self is allowed a greater freedom, to be whoever you want to be, or to discover your true self. A self that is not characterised by anxiety!
In conclusion then, anxiety is a useful tool that serves the body well as a survival strategy, and helps to keep us safe, well and also successful. The stresses of modern society sometimes mean that our anxiety levels rise uncomfortably, or a lightning bolt of anxiety strikes us out of the blue. We can learn to live in a calmer more mindful way, and enjoy less anxiety, through understanding and practicing certain techniques from Yoga, Yoga Nidra, Restorative Yoga, Pranayamas, Mindful Breathing, Mantras, Mudras, Chi Gung and Mindfulness Meditation, by the use of self soothing talk, and by installing a kindly guardian angel to displace our harsh inner critic. These and other more meditative healing practices help to instil peace and calm within us once again on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level. As it says in the Sutras, Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodhah , Yoga is the calming of the mind.