Yoga for Anxiety & Stress
The Good Influence of Yoga on Anxiety and Stress
Stress, fear, anxiety: if we start counting all those instances in life when we experienced these emotions, we may just lose count! Anxiety about the result of board exams or the reaction of our parents to the report card, nervousness about the first date, or a job interview, we all would have lived through these moments. A little bit of fear is normal, in fact, just like salt in food, it is needed so that we remain disciplined, focused, and dynamic.
The problem starts when this fear becomes persistent and intimidating so as to start interfering with our everyday life. Then it becomes an anxiety disorder, a state of excessive uneasiness, worry, or fear of the unknown, which needs to be treated, and this is where yoga can help.
It is also good to know that yoga alone should not be considered as the only treatment option. It should complement proper medication after consultation with a doctor or specialist. The doctor would guide you on the condition better and help you understand the type of anxiety disorder you may have: Panic Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, or Generalized Anxiety Disorder, to name a few.
Regular yoga practice can help you stay calm and relaxed in daily life, and can also give you the strength to face events as they come without getting restless. Yoga practice ideally includes the complete package of asanas (body postures), pranayamas (breathing techniques), meditation, and the ancient yoga philosophy, all of which has helped several anxiety patients recover and face life with new positivity and strength.
Simple Yogasanas / Asanas
Practicing some of the simple asanas can be helpful for anxiety. You do not need a class, special yoga clothes, or athletic wear to perform these poses. All you need is space, dedication, and the fearlessness to implement them. You can do these 5 asanas whenever you are feeling anxious, to help ground you back to the present.
- Shashankasana – Shashanka Pose helps to release tension in the back, neck, and shoulders which are the areas where most people hold a lot of their stress. This pose also helps to promote relaxation by encouraging steady conscious breathing, which is particularly great for anxiety sufferers due to its calming effect on the nervous system.
- Vrikshasana – The tree Pose is fundamental in easing anxiety. By implementing basic standing balances, you promote concentration, focus, and awareness, with the intention of taking your mind away from anxiety and placing your attention on your physical self.
- Veerabhadrasana – If you are comfortable with standing leg balances and would like a pose that strengthens, lengthens, and challenges you, Veerabhadrasana is the way to go. This pose enhances your core strength, improves coordination, balance, and posture. It also stimulates your abdominal region, which helps to improve digestion. Proper digestion and overall gut health are imperative in the fight against anxiety, as recent studies have discovered a link between the two. Veerabhadrasana will also help to calm the mind by shifting your attention away from intrinsic thoughts and redirects your thinking back to yourself.
- Sheershasana – Headstand is one of the best poses to practice, especially during most anxious times. It reverses the blood flow in your body, causing you to focus more attention on your breath, rather than your anxiety or discomfort. By focusing your awareness on your body’s place in space, you begin to evoke calmness and contentment.
When we increase and stimulate blood flow to our head, one main benefit is the detoxification of our adrenals, which is also known to decrease depression.
- Sarala Pranayama – Breathing issues affect many people living with anxiety. In some cases, anxiety can be brought on by poor breathing habits, but more commonly anxiety creates poor breathing habits by constantly stimulating the autonomic nervous system, ultimately changing the way you breathe. To control your mind, you have to control your breath and, therefore, it is very important to learn proper breathing techniques.
Keep reading to explore further into the intricacies of these asanas and uncover their profound effects. You can empower yourself with this knowledge, allowing the wisdom of these yogic practices to guide you on a path of calm and self-awareness.
How to do the Yoga asanas
Yoga, a practice embracing the physical, mental, and spiritual dimensions, offers a holistic approach to alleviate anxiety and stress, enhancing health, fitness, and overall well-being. As you explore the steps of Shashankasana, Vrikshasana, Veerabhadrasana, and Sheershasana, simple yet effective, these poses are accessible to all, requiring only space, dedication, and an open heart to practice. Furthermore, the principle of Sarala Pranayama introduces you to the art of conscious breathing. By allowing your inhalations and exhalations to flow harmoniously, this practice isn’t confined by rules or restrictions; it can be woven seamlessly into your daily life, especially during moments of anxiety.
Steps to perform Shashankasana
Begin on your hands and knees with your big toes touching. Your hands should be directly under your arms and your legs hips distance apart. Exhale as you bow forward allowing your torso to rest on or between your thighs with your forehead on the mat. Keeping your arms long and extended, press into your hands keeping your sit bones on your heels. Hold this pose for as long as you need to. When finished, slowly use your hands to walk your torso upright and sit back on your heels.
Steps to perform Vrikshasana
Standing tall with your feet hips distance apart, shift your weight to your right leg. Bend your left knee, and place the sole of your left foot into your inner right thigh or just below the knee, with your toes pointed towards the floor. Center your pelvis such that it is directly over your right foot. Press the sole of the left foot into your inner right thigh, while resisting with your outer right thigh. Place your hands into prayer with your thumbs at your heart center. Your gaze can be facing the ceiling or facing forward. Hold for 2-3 breaths, then repeat on the other side.
Steps to perform Veerabhadrasana
With your feet hips distance apart, turn to the left and widen your stance about four feet apart. Turn your right foot about 90 degrees so your toes point toward the front of the mat. Shift your left foot about 45 degrees so that it is at an angle toward the upper left side of the mat. Align your pelvis and torso with your right foot and bend your right knee, keeping both feet planted on the mat. Raise your arms overhead and press your weight onto your right foot, lift your left leg as you lower your torso forward making your body parallel to the ground. Reach out through the heel of your left foot, keeping both legs actively engaged. Your arms will now be reaching forward. Straighten your right leg and shift your gaze toward the ground a few feet in front of you and hold for 2-3 breaths. Slowly lower your leg back to the floor and repeat on the other side.
Steps to perform Sheershasana
Start on your hands and knees, with your forearms shoulder-width apart. Keeping your elbows there, interlace your fingers so that your pinkies touch the ground. Place the crown of your head onto the ground and cradle it in your hands. Tuck your toes and lift your hips high, walking your feet in as closer to your elbows. Engage your abdominal muscles, press your forearms onto the mat lifting out of your shoulders, and slowly lifting one leg off the ground. You can practice lifting one leg and then the other until you feel steady.
To enter full headstand, lift your feet straight up over your shoulders and hips until your legs are completely straight overhead. You can practice near a wall to support you if you are new to the headstand. Keep your gaze fixed and hold for 5-6 breaths (or as long as you desire).
Principle of Sarala Pranayama
Breathing should always be slow, steady, and deep. Try to maintain breathing in such a way that the duration of exhalation should prolong the duration of inhalation. Try to inhale as deep as possible and try to exhale as slow as possible. Try to utilize all the 3 segments of respiration, i.e. abdomen, thorax, and the clavicular area. This is known as ‘Sarala Pranayama’.
There are no rules or restrictions for this kind of pranayama. It can be practiced anytime and anywhere. Just maintain the erect posture of the spine, try to practice the Sarala Pranayama for few rounds during anxious times. Feel the power of your breath. It will relieve the anxiety.
You can practice these poses daily or whenever you feel the need to relax and rejuvenate. By incorporating these yoga asanas into your routine you’ll find a bridge between body and mind, leading to shedding of the grip of anxiety to a place of calm.
End note from WG Team
For more information on the Therapies Programs & Specialties about x(15) Pain. What to expect, where to find. WG Team & subject experts are here to assist you. Please visit our extensively detailed Pain & Wellness Programs for more information on the best solution for your health.