How Yoga Teaches Us Coping Skills

I often ask students (of all ages) what are their coping skills. The answers are sadly similar. The majority of students respond with the question, “What’s a coping skill?”.

Coping skills are like your internal IT support team. We call upon them with each new experience we encounter. When we access our coping skills, it’s a conscious and purposeful decision.

A coping skill is an investment in yourself, a conscious effort you make, in order to try to master, minimize or tolerate stress and anxiety. 

What can you control?
Stress is a condition of the everyday mind. Chronic stress is unhealthy; unchecked stress can negatively impact learning, development and physical health. Our bodies aren’t meant to operate in constant stress!

By practicing yoga, you can adapt and build coping skills to manage stress & anxiety. 

Our FamilyFlow Yoga® classes are designed similarly to a power vinyasa sequence arc. Think of a roller coaster ride that is climbing up a steep incline, clearing the apex, and heading down the other side to the end of the ride. Each section (or series) has an objective or intention and an opportunity to adopt a coping skill. 

Sample Power Vinyasa Sequence

1. Arrival: Get Grounded

Think of this as the time to shed all your armor and settle into the present moment without distractions from the outside world. 

  • Develop the ability to integrate, calm and center yourself
  • Leave your ego and expectations at the door
  • Practice mindful breathing to silence your mental Chatty Cathy

2. Integration: Move Your Body!

Physical movement is a great coping skill. Your body’s energy level can have a huge impact on how you cope with stress and anxiety. Using physical movement not only reinvigorates you, it also relaxes the focus on what isn’t within your control at that very moment. 

  • Explore how you’re feeling today 
  • Link the length of your breath with the length of your movements

3. Sun Salutation A: Self-Awareness

Sun salutations are to yogis like vocal warm up exercises are to singers.  

The repetition, pace and consistency of sun salutations instills our ability to focus on the present moment.

  • Controlling the rhythm and pace of your breath can support both effort and ease
  • Through repetition and practice, we find personal progress
  • Ability to conduct your breath to calm and ground yourself no matter the situation

You may not be able to change the weather outside, but you can control the weather within yourself.

 4. Sun Salutation B: Self-Control

This section of class is designed to energize the body and mind. Most often, you move through a series of basic, foundational poses that are linked to the flowing and rhythmic pattern of your breath. 

  • Self-control begins with controlling your breath
  • Every inhale provides energy and expansion, while every exhale brings release and relaxation
  • Learning to breathe and move is a valuable coping skill that’s transferable off your mat

5. Standing/Balancing Series: Finding your Foundation

Failing at work or school isn’t really a viable option. However, when we fall or fail in yoga, we come to the edge of our comfort zone and realize that our only limitations are self-inflicted. 

  • Focus, breath, core, and gaze 
  • Acquire the strength, flexibility and balance that are needed for what’s headed your way
  • Failing can be Fabulous!
  • Even when life is off kilter, believe in yourself and stay focused on the present moment

6. Peak Exploration: Practice Playfulness 

As we age, our innate fear of falling deepens and lessens our ability to try new things. Practicing playfulness gives us permission to drop our egos and fears. 

  • Avoid judging or comparing yourself to others
  • Imagine succeeding within your circumstance
  • Reframe and open up your vantage point to different perspectives

7. Deep Work: Self-Love

As we head towards the end of our practice, enjoy and explore asanas focused on hips, spine, twists or other neutralizing movements.

  • Reflect on your practice and release what no longer serves you.
  • Time to shift from activation to relaxation.

8. Surrender & Savasana: Self-Soothing and Reflection 

  • Time in class to slow your body back down, hold deeper stretches and linger longer in each posture. 
  • Begin to relax and settle in for savasana
  • Learn to eliminate outside distractions
  • Meditation requires focus on complete stillness from within 
  • Meditation takes practice to hone your ability to quiet your racing thoughts as well as a commitment to stay in that moment.

Yoga has taught me numerous coping strategies to clarify within what I can change and what I can do to deal with the rest . Whether it’s learning patience in holding a difficult posture for 10 breaths or balancing on one foot, we are engaged and find something more about ourselves each and every time we come to our mats. Learning how to cope with stress and anxiety is pivotal for development of healthy social interactions, emotional awareness, and self-regulation.

Adrienne started practicing yoga when she was working in the corporate world. She traveled constantly and always looked for ways to keep healthy and active while on the road. After completing her RYT-200 Power Yoga Teacher Training she was hooked! She completed her RCYT-95 as well as her RYT-500 Advanced Yoga Teacher Training. A mother of two girls, Adrienne has dedicated her time to deepening her practice and connecting with her students (especially families & kids!) on ways to allow their yoga experience to ripple into all aspects of their lives. Throughout Adrienne’s trainings, her passion has led her to co-found FamilyFlow Yoga®️. FamilyFlow Yoga®️is one of four accredited schools in Illinois to offer a 95 Hour Registered Yoga Alliance Children’s Yoga Teacher Training program. Adrienne teaches in yoga studios, fitness clubs, boutique studios, as well as in school and after school yoga programs. FamilyFlow Yoga®️ has become an expert in offering continuing education programs and workshop for yoga instructors as well as schools’ staff and administrations. She's committed to helping people reach their full potential both physically, mentally and emotionally.

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