In a world as ”wired” as the one we live in, anxiety is a mental health issue for a growing number of people. Deadlines, family commitments, adult responsibility, bills, and societal pressure only add fuel to the fire. Throughout history, many great writers have penned their thoughts and advice on how to find inner peace. But no one has put it as simply as Emerson did: ”nothing can bring you peace but yourself”. This is also one of the founding mantras of yoga practice.
Here’s how yoga for anxiety can help you re-establish a sense of inner peace and balance in your life…
Understanding Anxiety and the Practice of Yoga
Just over 40 million adults in the U.S. suffer from some form of anxiety. While a little bit of stress, anxiety or nervousness is normal in everyday life, crippling anxiety is not.
So, how can yoga help you to manage the symptoms of anxiety and find a better balance in your life? As Emerson put it so simply – the power lies within you.
The power of the human mind is overwhelmingly strong. This means we have the ability to heal ourselves from the inside, out.
Yoga is all about a mind-body connection. The practice helps you to find calmness in your mind by focusing your attention on your body and your breath. By doing so, this allows you to manage your anxiety while releasing any physical tension your body is holding onto.
Find Your Balance with Yoga For Anxiety
If you need to find a sense of calm – whether it’s before your day begins or after it has ended, here are 7 yoga poses for anxiety:
1. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
This pose is fantastic for beginner, intermediate or advanced yogis as its one the quintessential resting poses to ease tension, stress, and anxiety.
To get into this position, sit down on your knees on your yoga mat, bend your torso forward, and keep your arms at your sides. Gently rest your forehead on your yoga mat, while your forearms touch the mat, resting beside you.
Hold this position and focus on your breath. Turn inside, slow your mind down, and complete a full breath cycle as many times as you need.
2. Corpse Pose (Savasana)
It sounds rather macabre, but corpse pose is yet another quintessential resting pose to ease your anxiety. Anytime you are feeling overwhelmed, lie down flat on your back, keep your arms at your sides, and focus on your breath.
Imagine your body sinking down into the ground, let go of any tension you’re holding onto by allowing your limbs to go heavy and limp. Close your eyes and breathe through as many cycles as you need.
3. Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
This is a great pose for anxiety and stress management as it requires you to be truly present in the moment. Yoga balance poses force you to be open and honest with yourself and your state-of-mind. If your mind is frenetic or wandering, your body will know it and you won’t be able to hold your balance.
Slow your mind down and re-center with a tree pose by placing both feet firmly on your mat, shoulder-width apart. Slowly draw up your left leg and bend it at a 90-degree angle. Place your flat foot into the top crevice of your right inner-thigh, directing your knee outwards, perpendicular to your mat.
Bring your hands together at your heart, engage your core, look ahead, and breathe. Hold for as long as you can, then repeat on the other side. Maintain your balance by focusing your mind on your breath and the muscles supporting you.
4. Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
This gentle inversion is said to do wonders for whatever ails you. From lower back ache to anxiety, legs-up-the-wall is soothing and grounding.
To get into this position, you will need a support, such as two folded blankets or towels. Place the support as close to the wall as possible. If you aren’t as supple, move the support a little farther from the wall. Ideally, 5-6 inches from the wall is best.
Sit sideways on the support, then as you lay back, swing your legs in one swift movement up the wall. You should be lying flat on your back, with your legs extended up the wall. Keep your arms at your sides and breathe in this position for as long as you need.
5. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
In complete contrast to the above position, the standing forward bend inverts your body in the opposite way. As a more gentle inversion, a forward bend helps to calm the nervous system, while releasing upper body tension and slowing down the mind.
Stand on your yoga mat with your feet shoulder-width apart. Then bend forward from your hips, allowing your arms to hang heavily in front of you. If you can, grab onto your big toes and feel the stretch in your hamstrings and upper body. Hold for 30-seconds and breathe to encourage blood flow.
6. Cat/Cow (Bitilasana Marjaryasana)
This is a wonderfully relaxing and releasing combination of positions. It’s also good for lower back and upper back tension.
Come onto all fours on your yoga mat, keep your hands below your shoulders and your back in a neutral position. As you inhale, lower your belly to the ground, draw your shoulder blades together and lift your gaze upwards. Hold this position for a few breaths.
As you exhale, press into your palms, round your upper back and draw your shoulder blades apart. Send your gaze downwards towards your navel, arching your back just like a cat. Repeat for 7 cycles of breath.
7. Supported Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)
Supported Bridge pose is renowned for stretching the chest, neck, and spine. It also helps to calm the mind, fight off fatigue, headaches and improves digestion. This position forces you to focus on your mind-muscle connection, providing an escape from anxiety-ridden thoughts.
To get into a supported bridge pose, lie flat on your back on your mat, with your arms at your sides. Bend your knees and keep your feet firmly on the floor, place your heels as close to your buttocks as possible. Then, lift your hips off the floor towards the ceiling and slide a block, bolster or similar under the lowest point of your back. Rest your back on the prop and breathe.
Find Your Balance with Yoga Beyond the Studio
At Yoga Beyond the Studio, we offer a plethora of classes to suit your lifestyle. If it’s yoga for anxiety that you’re looking for, we can even come to your offices to teach it.
Learn more about our yoga classes at work and the amazing health benefits for you and your team.