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Yoga for Anxiety

Posted on March 12 2019

Yogini in Child's PoseAnxiety is the body’s natural response to stress and usually appears as a feeling of fear or uneasiness about what is going to happen. Big events such as stepping in front of a large audience may cause most people to feel anxious or nervous, but sometimes it can be more than just that. Over 40 million people are estimated to have an anxiety disorder in the United States alone.

Whether you suffer from panic attacks or just have the occasional anxious response to stress, yoga has been scientifically proven to help lower anxiety and promote relaxation. Here are some key ways yoga can help with anxiety:

 

Yoga is a Great Form of Self-Care  

 

When anxious or stressed, it’s easy to stop practicing self-care. Things such as getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising often fall to the back burner and in turn can cause even more stress. That’s why yoga is such a great form of self-care! Yoga allows us to step on our mats and truly focus on ourselves and our well-being, even if just for an hour. Sometimes we can get stuck in our heads in a cycle of worrying, and yoga can help clear that space by changing your focus to your mind and body connection.  

 

Yoga Relaxes Muscles and Physical Tension

 

When the body becomes anxious or stressed, it tends to become tense & tight. This is especially true in the shoulders, hips, jaw, and other areas of the body. Continuous tension on the body can lead to increased stress and feelings of anxiousness. Yoga helps relax the physical body by stretching the muscles and creating space for mindful movement. Yoga can help us get better at understanding how and where tension affects us most and teaches us how to let go.

 

Yoga Trains Us to Find Comfort in the Discomfort

 

When anxiety hits, it’s common for us to retreat away from things that make us feel anxious or stressed. But sometimes, retreating is just not possible. Whether it’s a task that we must do in everyday lif, or something that you have to do in order to keep your job, we can’t always avoid things that make us anxious. Yoga reminds us that discomfort is okay and can even be expected during certain postures. We learn that you can handle difficult things on your mat, and that can always be translated off your mat as well.

 

Yoga Helps Us Focus on Breath

 

Anxiety can strongly impact our breath, leading to increased heart rate and short shallow breaths. Yoga reminds us to concentrate on our breath, and to be more aware of how our breath impacts our heart rates and ability to move through even the most challenging postures.  Most importantly, yoga reminds us that we can always come back to our breath off our mats to help bring you back to the present moment and calm the mind.

 

 

Here are 3 Poses to practice whenever you feel anxiety welling up (and, YES! No Savanasana!)

 

 

Sirsasana I (Headstand Pose)

Benefits: As with many of the inversion poses, when your brain needs to find peace, this is a pose to take away mind-fog, relieves stress, and boost your energy. It strengthens your arms, lungs, and core. 

How it's done:

  • Kneel down
  • Interlace your hands, bend down and place them on the mat in front of you.  Your hands will cup your head.  Tuck pinky if you tend to roll on it, or it makes your pose unsteady
  • Position your elbows so they are shoulder-width apart.
  • Come up to your toes and walk up into a dolphin-like pose.  Go up to your tippy toes. 
  • You can bring one knee, or both into your chest.  Find your balance. 
  • Slowly raise legs one at a time, or both together up to the sky. 
  • Your ankles should be over your knees, your knees over your hips, and your hips over your shoulders. 

 

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Wheel Pose)

Benefits: Because your weight is being supported by your legs and arms - you are strengthening your legs and arms, and wrists, glutes, the abdomen, and back. 

How it's done:

  • To fully come into this pose, back flexibility is required. 
  • It is very helpful to make sure your quadriceps (thighs) are stretched out before this pose.
  • Make sure your weight is forward and over your shoulders so that your wrists are protected and not at an awkward angle. 
  • Keep your knees and thighs pulled in to center. 
  • Instead of taking you step by step for this pose, please watch the video below for instruction on how to master this pose. 

 

Garudasana (Eagle Pose)

Benefits: This pose stretches the back, shoulders, and thighs.  It helps improve your balance and coordination while strengthening your legs. 

How it's done:

  • Bring one knee high, and wrap the foot around the opposite leg, starting at the thigh.  Some people can do a double wrap, others only one.  Both are acceptable. 
  • Bring one elbow over the other arm. bring forearms together so that hands meet in prayer position. If this is not possible, hug your shoulders.
  • Once balance is achieved, bend at the knee and the hip fold.
  • Full Eagle is achieved when arms are wrapped, legs are wrapped, thigh is parallel to the ground, and you bend forward so that elbow is touching the knee. 

 

 

Thanks for reading!  Feel free to take 10% off your next order with code: PAWBLOG 

 

AUTHOR BIO

 

Stephanie Morgan is a yoga instructor and fitness, fashion & lifestyle blogger from Chicago! Yoga has impacted her life in so many ways, and she loves having the opportunity to teach and share her practice with others. She hopes to encourage and inspire other people to follow their dreams and find new levels of possibility in their minds and bodies by bringing their practice off their mat and into their lives! You can find her blog at www.XoStephMorgan.com

 

Instagram: www.Instagram.com/XoStephMorgan

Facebook: www.Facebook.com/XoStephMorgan

Twitter: www.Twitter.com/XoStephMorgan

 

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