Advice

How Yoga Can Alleviate Anxiety

Anxiety is a problem that we all experience at some point in our lives for one reason or another. Whether it’s your financial stresses causing you concern or you experience a degree of social anxiety in certain situations, it can cause much bigger problems for you to deal with. When anxiety sets in, it can disrupt no end of things – your sleeping pattern, your diet, even the way you communicate with others as you are put on edge.

Overcoming anxiety can be complex and of course varies depending on the reasons for it and the severity of it. There are some fantastic herbal remedies that can help to alleviate the symptoms but, as with most things, prevention is always better than the cure. Yoga can be such an effective weapon against anxiety that it’s surprising that it is not prescribed long before the doctor reaches for the pills.

First of all, yoga is an amazing form of exercise and it releases those all important endorphins. It’s a fact, doing exercise makes us feel good about ourselves – if not during than at least afterwards. This sense of accomplishment after a session is as great for our self esteem as it is for our bodies. The key is to start slow. Learn the basic poses and move from a beginner class to a more advanced session at your own pace. You’ll more than likely surprise yourself at how well you’re progressing and this of course is great for your self esteem also.

There are certain yoga positions that are more beneficial for defeating anxiety than others. The most important poses to focus on are restorative poses. These are positions of rest in which you have time to focus on your breathing and clear your thoughts. Done for an extended period of time, restorative yoga poses can feel similar to meditation. The Child’s pose for example, which involves kneeling down with your head bent forward and your arms stretched to reach ahead of yourself on the floor, helps to release tension in the shoulders and neck. When people experience anxiety, a lot of tension tends to build up in these areas so it is important to regularly release it.

The Legs up the Wall pose is another restorative pose that will induce feelings of relaxation. It is also useful for alleviating lower back pain and of course, releasing anxiety from the body. As the name suggests, you simply lie flat on your back with your legs up the wall – you can insert a pillow under your hips for comfort if you prefer. You can hold this pose for as long as you like; it shouldn’t become uncomfortable and you will find it a great way to relax as feelings of anxiety leave your body. This is a good one to do right before bed if you find that your anxiety is preventing you from sleeping restfully.

Remember, these are great poses to begin with but there’s a world of yoga out there in which you can learn many more helpful poses. Don’t limit yourself and you’ll soon be amazed at how much lighter life feels.

45 comments

  1. Great post. I am a fan of yoga and I have previously suffered from GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder.) I need to taker yoga classes more often to even out my busy schedule so thank you for the encouragement x

  2. Reblogged this on Westallhead and commented:
    I need to take up a regular yoga class in which I will go to weekly. I don’t have enough discipline to do it at home as I find it hard to even out my busy lifestyle…

  3. That is so true! From my own experience I know that yoga is the best medicine. Not only it helped to get rid of anxiety, but it gave me this body confidence that I never had before. Now I trust myself, know my limits and how far I can push them. It’s just amazing! 🙂

  4. Reblogged this on The Living Fit Project and commented:
    I tried yoga for the first time about a year ago. I wish I had discovered it in my competitive athletic days. It improves your body and mind so much and men should not be afraid to try it. It really makes your core stronger, balance, coordination, mentally and emotionally is stabilizing .

  5. I’ve had a big problem with anxiety for a while now. I used to be really into hot yoga as well but stopped after my schedule got too busy 🙁 However, this post has encouraged me to start up again! So thank you for that! xo

  6. Reblogged this on Ramblings of a wild strawberry and commented:
    A great post about how yoga can help alleviate anxiety. I’d add that it often helps sleep patterns regulate. Sleep and anxiety get into a vicious circle and yoga helps to break that cycle in a natural way. Having a good night’s sleep can help gain perspective on things.

    Also some gentle back bends to help open the chest where we might feel closed, locked or tight.

    We also hold a lot of tension in our digestive system. Inversions like legs up the wall, shoulder stand and head stand can help untie the knots in the intestines.

    The biggest thing to avoid if you’re anxious? CAFFEINE! It stimulates the body into a stress response, the fight or flight state. If you’re anxious that is not a state you want to inhabit! If you can’t quit caffeine completely, try other milder forms which may have less of an effect – tea or green tea definitely gets my heart racing less!

  7. I did yoga when I was younger but got out of practice. I’m trying a 30 day challenge of mommy and me yoga to get myself back into it. My daughter absolutely loves it and I am excited to continue.

  8. Yoga is just amazing and you have described it all. I tend to do it at least once I week to take out any stress feeling, i actually think it’s even better than a massage! My favourite pose is the wheel… That is def a stress reliever!! Xx FoodieAddict

  9. I can’t tell you how many people complain “I don’t have time to do yoga” yet they have 10 minutes to drive to the F.F. restaurant and other 5 minutes to wait in the drive lane/go inside.
    Keep at it, stay healthy, and prosper my friends. – Perry Tanko

  10. Reblogged this on Zenified and commented:
    Yoga has been a big part of my life for the last few years.
    It has assisted me to deal with health issues, and also personal things that I had issues dealing with. It has allowed me to find the real me, and connect with the real me.
    Once I started meditating and doing yoga, my whole life changed and I started a awesome journey. Every day is amazing, and I look forward to what it will teach me and what I can experience. It has taught me to be connected with my body and in turn also then take more control and understand the food that I’m eating.
    I really think that we all get caught up in this material world of rushing and working, and it’s all about the money. But when I do yoga, it takes me back to the basics.

    I have also implemented a few other things that assist me with closing off the day and falling asleep happy and content.
    So when I’m in bed, I go through a list of things in my head that I’m grateful for each day. I mostly think of unique things that happened to me that day, the people I come in contact with. I generally do around 3-5.
    I then do some mindfulness of breath, and once I’m settled, I let myself go through the whole day. So watching it all like it was on a screen, but without judgments and emotions. Just let it flow. Most of the times I fall asleep while doing this. And that’s okay.

    Namaste

  11. Good that I got to see your post. It took me back to the days when I used to feel sooo good after completing my daily Yoga routine, until recently the mundane routine took over and I became lazy. Thanks, your post serves as a push to me to begin – better late than never. Plus, I got to learn 2 new poses too. Cheers!

  12. As someone with anxiety and depression, this is a really helpful post! I shall definitely add this to my daily routine and hopefully it should help with all the anxiety I carry around. And boost my self-esteem.Thanks for the great advice!

  13. Thanks for giving a great perspective on how exercise, especially yoga can help anxiety.
    I am worried about it reving up my metabolism too much… what are your thoughts, I was thinking about tai chi as well…

  14. Thanks for the post! I’ve lived with anxiety for most of my life and I really want to start trying to manage it in ways other than medication. Yoga will likely be my first strategy I test out.

  15. Love this post. A 10 mins meditation every morning (and evening) also does wonders, belly breathing (activating parasympathetic nervous system), really calms you down. Very cool blog btw!

  16. I’ve added yoga as a key component in my recovery from alcohol dependency. I used alcohol to self-medicate anxiety – as many women do – and that never works out well. Quitting drinking meant finding new and better strategies to manage anxiety, and the benefits of yoga resonate long after I step off the mat.

  17. Your article resonated deeply with us. We find great benefits from similar styles of partnered acro-balance. The symmetry, harmony and workout release is essential to maintaining a positive state of mind. Thoughtful reading – thank you.

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