ABOUT STILLING THE WAVES
Stilling the Waves is a yoga resource for people struggling with anxiety or working to support those encountering it. It is content lovingly developed to help you integrate the wisdom & benefits of yoga for stress & anxiety in an accessible, effective & meaningful way. Honoring the interconnection of mind & body, this program offers a holistic approach based on contemporary research, traditional yogic philosophy & personal experience.
My name is Eva Hamilton. I am not a mental health expert, but someone who has used yoga to lessen my own personal struggles with anxiety from a young age. I have now taught yoga for 10 years, over the course of which I have repeatedly witnessed the potent capacity yoga holds for deeper healing...
My journey with yoga started when I was 15 and was related to my anxiety. I had more than the average teenage angst & it was beginning to manifest as anxiety attacks. Yoga gave me a way to relax my mind & body, but I would still have strong bouts of anxiety. I have always been a perfectionist. More than any external source, the inner pressure I would put on myself would result in constant fear, without the clarity of really understanding what I was afraid of.
This continued throughout my university years & afterward when I traveled to India to deepen my studies of yoga. The inner work of silence & meditation made any fears difficult to suppress as the roots & impacts were becoming clearer. At that point, I returned home to the knowing that I had everything I had ever previously wanted; a caring relationship in a beautiful home and my own yoga studio to expand my passion into a real career. But the truth was my anxiety had never been worse. It was nearly debilitating and I was struggling daily to get out of bed despite feeling that I had all the necessary ingredients for my happy life. I think my fear was based on the worry that it couldn't all be sustained... that that moment was impermanent. And truly, it was. My life looks very different now, but I am happy & less controlled by these feelings.
My yoga practice has accompanied me as a student and a teacher over times of anxiety in my life. At this moment anxiety does not have a strong presence in my life. When it does show up, I am able to look at it almost like a visitor. I can breathe & witness the old familiar feelings saying hello, allowing it to be acknowledged and not ignored. I know that the anxiousness, too, is not permanent.
There are many ways to support anxiety and I do not believe that yoga is a replacement for other forms of treatment or care, including medication or counseling. Healing is a deeply individual process. While I felt pressured to use medications, I knew that in my yoga practice I had a lot of tools to support myself. I knew that in my breath, there was the ability to start to regulate my feelings. I also worked with an amazing psychotherapist who guided me to better understand my own personal history, habitual patterns and inner architecture. Yoga is not a substitute, but an additional support. I believe yoga supplies an amazing body of wisdom & techniques that can act as a partner to other forms of healing.
I began to direct my studies as a yoga teacher to better understand my own anxiety and support my clients with their own. I became increasingly curious about the nervous system and how we can use breath, meditation, and movement to shift its responses. How to bring us out of these intensive experiences of emotion and fight and flight. And how to really feel home & safe within our own bodies.
Offering this kind of work is very personal to me. As a yoga teacher, I am less invested in helping a client touch their toes, as I am in helping them breathe deeper, relax more fully or find less stress & more joy in the hours of each day. I would never assert claims that simply adopting a yoga practice would resolve one's anxiety, or that anyone pose or method of mindfulness or breathing in itself a solution. But I am excited to offer Stilling the Waves based on my professional training, contemporary research, yoga philosophy & my own personal experience. Developing this has been very close to my heart.
What I hope this video course creates is a sense of autonomy, to be able to have practices you can use yourself in moments of difficulty. To help people develop new strategies & methods that can be applied outside the context of your yoga practice. A regular practice of an hour of yoga once or twice a week is great. But I strongly believe a short practice of 5-15 minutes a day is much more valuable than an hour a week. Be that checking into your breath, or a simple grounding exercise or a moment to scan your body & more closely watch your stream of thoughts - we can build a yoga practice that accompanies us beyond the dimensions of our yoga mats.
This program contains a lot of informational content. As a teacher, I think its important not only to teach the "how" of getting safely & satisfyingly in & out of poses, but also the "why" - why does this generate this effect in my body? The first few videos in the series are more educational & will help to explore the inner mechanisms of yoga to deepen your awareness. There are then five full-length practices (approx. 45 minutes for easy home use) which follow our specific working model to down-regulate the nervous system. Lastly, you will find 5 mini-practices. Theses "ripple" classes are each just 5 - 10 minutes long for when you feel the swell or surge of anxiety arising but don't have time for a full class. The classes themselves are instructed for all levels. The movement is intentionally uncomplicated. The classes require some basic props, but most can be substituted easily at home.
The name of this series is derived from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, a classical yogic text composed around 300 CE. Of the 196 Sutras or statements describing the tradition of yoga, the very second gives my favorite definition; yogas chitta vritti nirodhah - yoga is the stilling of the waves of the mind.
This is an ancient practice with many modern and important applications. A system for deeper wellbeing and peace. I hope that is exactly what you find in this program. My hope is that these videos allow you to still the waves of stress in your mind & body, and ultimately to heal not by getting rid of our feelings, but by learning through them.
Thank you for letting me share my story.
To learn more about Eva, her training, and her other classes, programs, and events please visit:
"At our request, Eva Hamilton has developed and offered a "Yoga for Anxiety" class for a group of our staff and clients. Her positivity, compassion, and knowledge make this a supportive, safe & relaxing learning and healing experience. The takeaway coping techniques that she teaches are so helpful for our clients who are living with serious anxiety, panic, and trauma. On behalf of the Canadian Mental Health Association, Grey/Bruce Branch, we would like to thank Eva for her practical support, thoughtfulness and skill. The group is a definite success in helping individuals
working towards their own recovery."
Melanie Knowles Reg. N
Canadian Mental Health Association - Grey Bruce