I recently took my grade five piano exam. Despite my teacher telling me I was more prepared than any other student ever (hello, perfectionist, my old friend), the real thing that was primed to mess me up was my nerves.

I am classically anxious, friend. It’s just the way it is. But, as a yoga teacher, I’m super lucky to have a million tools at my disposal to help me deal with this stuff. Literally: tools for anxiety, just like we have tools to fix our hair. The trick is just doing the work (just like practicing my scales).

So here’s how I learned to go from unbelievably anxious about my exam, to way more chill and get a really great score under pressure (and here’s how you can deal with anxiety, too):

1. Imagine

Imagine the thing. For me, it was walking into the exam room clutching my music, seeing my examiner – a terrifying Miss Trunchbull-like character, obviously – who asks me to sit down and play. She probably barks it at me. She’s holding a mace in a slightly threatening way.

2. Feel

You’re imagining the thing. Now feel the associated feelings. What does anxiety feel like? Where does it sit? What does it feel like? Hot? Cold? Tight? Broad? Identify the feeling. For me, it sits in my chest and throat. It’s tight, compressive, hot, and horrible.

3. Go Inside

Despite probably not wanting to, the next step is to go inside the feeling. Feel your anxiety, friend. You know that bit in Freddie Got Fingered where Tom Green climbs inside a deer carcass (yes, a f*cking weird movie)? I want you to climb inside that feeling in the same way. Become curious about it. Watch it. What does it do? Where does it go?

4. Rest

Do this for five minutes or so. Keep coming back to it. Then take some time to do nothing. Longer, if it felt like a lot. Just lie there, savasana style, and let it go.

This is a way to skilfully work with emotions and anxiety rather than let this stuff control us, something I’ve learned from my nervous system teacher, Jonny Miller. It massively helped me feel calmer about my exam (and hugely contributed to my high score), and I hope it helps you deal with whatever you’ve got going on, too.

For a perfect unwind after this exercise (or anytime you need it), try this Body Awareness Savasana – designed to help you release tension.

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Chloe - TYR Founder & Joyful Living Coach

POSTED: 26/06/2023

Chloe is a yoga teacher, mindfulness guide, and joyful living coach, and she thinks the meaning of life is probably to be as happy as possible.

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