The word “anxiety” is used loosely in today’s society, but anxiety is actually a specific and serious mental condition. It’s marked by feelings of extreme apprehension and nervousness, as well as unusually strong feelings of fear and worry. For many people suffering from anxiety, the condition can inhibit their ability to function in their day to day lives. They may fear social and professional interactions to such a degree that they avoid people and can become reclusive in more serious cases.
How Can Yoga Help Alleviate Anxiety?
In general, the various poses used in the practice of yoga help relieve stress and give the body opportunities to use a broad range of muscles. While this aspect of yoga helps the physical body, the deep breathing exercises done during each pose help reduce the symptoms of mental illness. This is why so many therapists do recommend yoga for anxiety and depression.
Pranayama breathing exercises incorporate a three-step method of regulating the breathing process. As an individual focuses on rechaka or exhalation, kumbhaka or retention, and puraka or inhalation, they’re forced to let go of their fears and concerns. Their only focus is on the breathing exercise, which helps them clear their thoughts. When pranayama is done with care and deliberation, it can help the body open the pores, relax the muscles, and alleviate the symptoms of stress.
The Best Simple Yoga Poses for Relieving Anxiety
Legs Up The Wall
When you raise your legs above the heart and lungs, the body is able to relax. This type of yoga pose helps to reduce stress levels, while the deep breathing exercises help clear the mind. The pose involves laying with your back flat on a mat in a place where you can stretch your legs straight against a wall. Your buttocks should be as close to the wall as possible. Your arms should be relaxed at your side with your open palms facing the ceiling. Close your eyes.
Breathing: Count to five as you inhale, count to five as you hold your breath, and release your breath with another count to five. You should be able to feel your heart rate slow as you breathe.
This is a little more difficult and it’s important to be sure you have a thick mat that will allow you to kneel comfortably. As you kneel, reach and bend forward, stretching your arms as far ahead of you as you can. Hold the pose for five seconds and release. As you repeat this process of stretching and softening the pose, you should also be concentrating on your breathing. This will provide an opportunity for the mind to release concerns and worries, clearing your thoughts. Your goal should be to attain a state of peacefulness in this pose.
More Complex Yoga for Anxiety
Although this may not be one of the best yoga poses for beginners, it is highly effective in managing stress and anxiety. It does this by boosting blood circulation throughout the body. More efficient blood flow means a higher oxygen content is getting delivered to the brain, which helps the mind heal.
Kneel on your mat so that your knees and shoulders are parallel to one another. Keeping your hands on your hips, slowly inhale and pull your tailbone inward. As you do this step, you should feel pressure in your naval. Next, arch your back and slide your hands back to hold your feet, straightening your arms as much as possible. Your neck should remain relaxed throughout the pose. Hold this arched position for 30 to 60 seconds, before allowing your body to relax.
This pose expands and stretches the neck, chest, and shoulders. It also helps strengthen the abdominal and back muscles. Due to the extreme stretching involved in the Dhanurasana or Bow Pose, it’s an excellent way to relieve stress and reduce symptoms of anxiety.
Lying flat on your stomach, make sure your feet are parallel to your hips and your arms are flat at your sides. As you grab a hold of your ankles and fold your knees, arch your back and lift your chest off of the ground. Throughout the pose, your face muscles should remain relaxed and unstrained. Now, your body should be shaped like a hunter’s bow. Hold this pose as you concentrate on your deep breathing exercises. You should try to hold this pose for 20 seconds.
There are many more poses that can help you cope with symptoms of anxiety. In fact, yoga is generally used as a relaxation technique for that reason. If you do suffer from severe anxiety and worry about joining a public class, there are plenty of online resources to help you begin practicing yoga. As you progress, you’ll find that you’re experiencing many more physical and emotional health benefits.
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