I’ve taught well over 1,000 yoga classes, yet I’m a little nervous about a class that I’ll be video taping for my ParaYoga certification exam. Luckily I realize that the sting of nerves is a natural occurrence and there are plenty of things I can do to help my mind and body move away from it’s natural response of alerting me to the “danger of self humiliation.”
To ensure that my nerves don’t entangle me, I’ll be incorporating some yoga and coaching tools into my schedule before I film my yoga class. I’m passing these tools on to you. Use them to calm your nerves or cure a case of stage fright before any big event.
1.) Belly Breathing – Without a doubt belly breathing is the fastest way to turn off your overactive sympathetic nervous system (the one that has you on high alert for whatever activity you are sure you’re about to botch) and turn on the calming response of your parasympathetic nervous system. Place your hands on your navel with your fingers lightly touching. As you inhale breath into your belly, causing your navel to move away from your spine and your fingertips to move away from one another. As you exhale notice your navel move back toward your spine and your fingers come back together. Take at least 5 belly breaths before a big event or whenever you feel anxious. Here’s a link to a short video where I explain this type of belly, or diaphragmatic, breathing.
2.) Lengthen Your Exhales – In conjunction with belly breathing, extending the length of your exhales also turns on your relaxation response. Begin by counting the natural length of your inhales and exhales to yourself. Use the lowest number and make the length of both your inhale and exhale match this number. For example you may have noticed a pattern of inhaling for 4 counts and exhaling for 3 counts. Now practice making both the inhale and exhale only 3 counts long, for a total of 6. Once you are comfortable with a balanced breath gradually lengthen your exhales. In this example you would take a few breaths inhaling for 3 counts and exhaling for 4 counts. Once you are comfortable with that ratio then you can try 3 on the inhale and 5 on the exhale. The key is that you don’t want to strain your breath at any point. Don’t worry about how high your numbers are, be more concerned with the overall sensation of release and relaxation that you experience as you extend each exhale. In fact you can make your exhales audible and even sigh as you release tension. Ahhh….
3.) Prepare Using Your Senses – While breathing exercises are great for reducing tension in the moment, there is nothing like confidence to get you through a challenging situation. We build our confidence through preparation and experience. A little personal pep talk can help as well.
Wherever possible practice how you will use and experience your senses during the big moment. If you’re giving a speech, try to rehearse it in the actual location where you will present. Take in the sights, sounds and smells of the room. Feel the touch of the podium or the remote control you will use to display your slides. If you can’t actually be in the physical location use the power of visualization to take you there. Athletes and other professionals use visualization throughout their careers to see themselves winning the big trophy or accepting the highest prize of their profession.
4.) Laugh Out Loud – There’s nothing like a belly laugh to release pent up anxiety. Spend time with friends and family before your big event and encourage jokes in the conversation. If you’re concerned about getting enough sleep the night before, try watching or reading a comedy before bed. Last, but not least, try to laugh at yourself. Simply remind yourself that you’re human and this is another fun experience on the journey of life. Enjoy it!
I would love to know how you calm your nerves before a big event. Tell me in the comments section what works for you. If you would like more help with feeling fear and taking action anyway, give me an example below.
Simply enter your comment at the bottom of the article and I’ll get back to you with any insights I can share.