How to Calm an Anxious Mind

By Linsey Birusingh

Let’s be honest. Life in 2020 is not only fast-paced, but inundated with an unending list of fears. In a time when we’re uncertain whether we’re being hoodwinked, click-baited or told the truth, anxiety can become the norm. But it doesn’t need to become yours! Yoga teaches us is that we have internal tools to combat the stress of uncontrollable, external circumstances. As a teacher specially trained in yoga for mental health, wellness, and trauma I’ve provided some tools to calm my anxious mind.


Self-awareness is your first line of defense. Notice when your mind begins to spin out of control and implement intervention before it snowballs. Yogis have practiced this for thousands of years. If trying to slow a spinning mind seems like a foreign task, try meditating for just ten minutes a day. Focus on one thing, whether it’s your breath, an object or a mantra and bring the mind back every time it strays. This will not only give you a clear understanding of your current mind state, but with practice will allow you to slow the stream of thought and come into the present. This can be difficult in the beginning. Just like riding a bike, it’s common to find the road a bit bumpy at first attempt. Rest assured that a disciplined practice will yield great results!


Breathing techniques, called pranayama, can soothe the vagus nerve which is responsible for much of our nervous system’s ability to switch from sympathetic (fight or flight mode) to parasympathetic (rest and digest mode). Vagus translates to ‘to wander’, and the nerve is named for the way it wanders from the brain, down the neck, and through a multitude of your internal organs. When anxiety and tension manifest in the body and gut, the vagus nerve tells your brain you are anxious.


To tame its response, try a three-part yoga breath with a much longer emphasis on your exhale. Your breath will move from your belly, to your chest, to collar bones. As you exhale your collar bones will deflate, then chest, then belly. The vagus nerve is toned by HRV (heart rate variability). When you inhale, your heart beats faster. When you elongate your exhale, a neurotransmitter signals your heartbeat to slow. This variability calms the vagus nerve.


You may also try ujjayi, the textured, ocean-sounding breath we use in yoga. Gently constrict the glottis in your throat and create a warming, audible breath in and out of your nose. This sends soothing vibrations to the vagus nerve, helping you relax. According to findings in the journal Cognition & Emotion, controlling our breath can change how we feel, creating a 40 percent variance in experience of fear, anger, and sadness.


Physical practice is vital for fending off physical manifestations of anxiety and grounding yourself in the present moment. Anxiety is fear of the future and rooted in hypothetical scenarios. When you come to your mat, yoga asks you to notice your breath, listen to signals from your body and mind, and respond accordingly. You cannot think about a hypothetical conversation with your boss and memorize a yoga flow at the same time. Inverted (or upside down) poses activate your parasympathetic nervous system. A more active, sweaty practice alleviates pent up energy that needs healthy release. A well-rounded yoga class will touch all of these aspects!


Progressive relaxation meditations are one of my favorite resets. Your body, energy, and breath can be rigid when you’re stressed. Because relaxation is a learned skill, a good progressive relaxation will ask you to notice this tension and consciously release it. You can find this type of meditation on our schedule or free on my website .


Setting technology limitations is vital. In fact, I joke with my students that much of yoga’s benefit comes from leaving your cell phone behind and turning your smart watch on silent! In a world where notifications and bad news are constantly in the palm of our hand, it is essential that we unplug and dive inside. This inner world is the only place we can consistently affect change. This is where your balance, sanity, and peace reside. Use it as a refuge any time you feel anxious, and tap back into your innate power.



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About Kirk: 

Kirk was working 80-hour weeks and wearing his shoulders as earrings when he found yoga in 2005. Forever the competitive athlete, he loved the physicality of yoga. When the spiritual and philosophical side of yoga were exposed to him, Kirk was hooked. Yoga provided him with what other activities couldn’t -- the ability to foster the benefits of practice both on and off of the mat. Yoga was something that Kirk could bring into all aspects of his life. 

Kirk knows that yoga can be intimidating, so he crafts a class that is playful and inviting, while still being challenging and safe. His creatively planned classes build strength and flexibility in your body and mind while establishing clarity, giving you more confidence to overcome obstacles in your life, and keeping you injury-free. His classes are themed with a message that is relatable and will inspire you to take it with you off your mat. Kirk has been teaching yoga since 2008 and lead his first teacher training in 2012. Where Kirk truly shines is in coaching, developing and bringing out the best in others.  

Kirk enjoys traveling (40+ countries to date!), snowboarding, and cherishes time with his wife and two daughters. 

About Christen: 

Christen Bakken’s yoga journey began in 1998 in a Bikram studio that provided a safe and secure place to practice. She saw the yoga mat as a place to remember her purpose and a place to play. As she continued her studies and began her journey to teaching in 2006, Christen infused yoga classes with devotion and the yoga mat became a place of personal transformation and healing. Her classes are filled with laughter, song, sweat, and usually heart openers. In 2013, Christen began training yoga teachers. This is the place where she finds the most joy - in community with folks looking to grow and be of greater service in their homes, on their mats, and in the world. Over the years, she has led trainings in Denver, the Midwest, Florida, and now abroad. She has trained in continuing education modules, 200-hour, 300-hour, and 500-hour programs. Beyond the mat, Christen is a passionate adventure seeker - she loves to bike, snowboard, and spend time with her husband and pups. She sees each day as a blessing and hopes to remind all who interact with her of this truth.  

Two Light Studio Parking Information

We validate parking for THREE garages in the area!

  • Two Light garage located directly north of the studio. Please bring your ticket inside for validation.

  • Three Light garage at Main and Truman. Garage entrance on Truman. Please bring your ticket inside for a validation sticker.

  • Power & Light garage at 13th and Grand. Please ask for a parking pass at the studio front desk. (Hot tip: the Power & Light garage has a ton of space! But be sure to give yourself a little extra time to walk to the studio.)

If you find that you are running a couple minutes late due to parking, please call the studio to let the instructor know to wait for you before locking the doors.

Blackstone Studio Parking

  • We have partnered with our friends at Greenslate to provide 1 hour and 15 minute validated parking for Power Life students in the lot at 36th and Harney (just south of the Cottonwood Hotel). Read below to learn how to take advantage of this perk:

    • Step 1: Scan the QR code located in the lot.

    • Step 2: Select your destination (i.e. “yoga studio”).

    • Step 3: Ask for the validation code at the Blackstone studio front desk and enter it on your phone.

    • Step 4: You are all set! Have fun at class!

    Please note:

    • The validation provided by Power Life and Greenslate is for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Need to add additional time to your parking space? You can do that conveniently from your phone!

    • This option is valid once per day per license plate.

    • Please do NOT park in the Crescent Moon lot − you will be towed!

East Village Studio Amenities

  • There is a paved lot and gravel lot on the West side of the building.

  • Meters on Court and 4th (by Peace Tree) for $0.25/hour, 9am-9pm Mon. – Sat. 12-hour max

  • Meters on 4th (to the North) for $1.25/hour. Mon – Sat. 4-hour max.

  • All meters are free on Sundays and major holidays.

How to Calm an Anxious Mind Info