Yoga for Anxiety

“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” ~ Amit Ray

sourcefireblogYoga can be a great help to those with anxiety. Yoga postures (asana) and breathing exercises (pranayama) can help release tension, change focus, and increase relaxation.

Yoga poses and breathing exercises alone may hepful, or if you wish to move further into yogic philosophy, you may want to try practices such as prayer and chanting. Meditation and self-study (svadhyaya) provide a way to explore deeper causes of anxiety, letting issues come to the surface, get acknowledged, and then allow you to move forward.

In yoga we learn that ultimately we cannot control the future. We plan sensibly, do our best, and let the universe take its course. We then respond to life with the strength of knowing who we are, divinely connected to something greater than ourselves. Giving up our desire to control the future takes off a tremendous amount of pressure.

Here are some practices/poses that may help to release pent up tension:

  • Controlled breathing- Start in a seated position. Lengthen the spine with your inhale as you breathe in deeply to a slow count of four. Hold the breath to a count of four, then exhale to a slow count of eight. Repeat for up to a minute to center and calm the mind.
  • Left-nostril breathing can be calming. Breathing slowly and deeply through the left nostril effects the feeling/emotional side of the brain.
  • Downward Facing Dog (let gravity release tension in your neck and backs of your legs)
  • Standing or Seated Forward Bends (releases tension in the back, neck, and shoulders, and helps clear the mind)
  • Half Moon Pose, Dancer Pose, Boat Pose and other balancing poses (causes the mind to focus on not toppling over!)
  • Back bends such as Bridge Pose and Camel (stimulating, releases tension in the front body, opens the heart)
  • Vigorous practices such as repeated Sun Salutations shown below can burn off pent up tension. Or try moving back and forth between Downward Facing Dog and Up-Dog Poses or Knee-to-Nose and Tiger Pose or 5 Pointed Star and Star Twist

Sun Salutation Series

sun salutation, yoga for anxiety1) Mountain, Prayer Pose
2) Reach/Arch Back
3) Standing Forward Fold
4) Lunge Pose
5) Plank Pose
6) Four Limbed Staff Pose
7) Cobra
8) Downward Facing Dog
9) Lunge Pose
10) Standing Forward Bend
11) Reach/Arch back
12) Mountain, Prayer Pose