Anxiety, like most other emotions, is a part of life. It’s perfectly natural to feel some trepidation when your child leaves for college or you start a new job. Problems arise when you find yourself frequently experiencing anxiety at a level that’s out of proportion to actual circumstances.
Left untreated, anxiety can severely inhibit your quality of life, causing you to begin avoiding normal activities and neglecting responsibilities. Common symptoms include feelings of powerlessness and trouble concentrating. Anxiety also has physical effects such as hyperventilation, heart palpitations and lack of energy.
Fortunately, there are methods you can use to control anxiety before it gets out of hand. Yoga is an effective solution because it allows your mind and body to work in harmony, eliminating the faulty thinking that leads to anxiety while relieving the physical symptoms.
It’s estimated that roughly 18 percent of adults suffer from anxiety. If you’re in that number, here are some specific yoga poses to incorporate into your practice.
This pose is often used for relaxation as it releases tension through the back, neck and shoulders which are often affected by stress. Start on your hands and knees, feet together with your legs hip-distance apart. As you exhale, bow forward until your torso is resting on your thighs and your forehead is on the mat. Release by walking your hands back until you are upright.
Forward bends are often used to de-stress the body and mind when outside stimuli gets too over- whelming. It forces you to close off your senses to the outside and cultivate inner quietness . Sit on your butt with legs stretched ahead of you. As you exhale lean forward drawing your head towards your knees. If you have tight hamstrings, simply bend your knees or place a large bolster on your legs and rest your fore head on the bolster. Hold for at least 5 breaths.
Legs Up the Wall
In addition to relieving anxiety, this pose is good for lower back pain, menstrual cramps, insomnia and a number of other ailments. Roll up your mat halfway, resting it where the wall meets the floor. Sit with one side resting against the wall, then swing your legs up on the wall while you lower your head and torso onto the mat. Ease forward until your hamstrings touch the wall.
This is one of the most recognizable yoga poses. It helps with anxiety by focusing your attention on balance and physical awareness. Stand with feet hip-width apart and shift your weight to your right leg. Bend your left knee to place your left sole against the inside of your right thigh, toes pointing down. Place hands in a prayer position and hold for two to three breaths before repeating on the left side.
When you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed, this pose is a good way to regain a sense of calm and control. Lie flat on your back with your arms at your sides. Remain in this position for up to 10 minutes, focusing on your breathing as you watch your chest rise and fall.
Try each pose to see which works best for you. Your instructor can assist you with any other questions you may have about the best yoga and meditation techniques for anxiety.