How Yoga Practice Can Help You Deal with Anxiety

The practice of Yoga is a highly effective way to reduce anxiety and induce a state of relaxation. Its also strengthens one’s mind and prepares it to face challenges without getting too agitated. A proper Yoga practice with asanas (body postures), pranayamas (breathing techniques), and meditation, can be a powerful stress management tool. It can help one cope with stress and anxiety, especially during this ongoing pandemic. 

Anxiety disorders are of varying types, including – Panic Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, or Generalized Anxiety Disorder among others. If you experience anxiety repeatedly it may be time to  consult a psychiatrist or GP.

Symptoms of anxiety disorder:

  • Unusually anxious and terrified
  • Getting unrestrained, compulsive thoughts of past traumatic experiences
  • Recurrent nightmares and/or palpitations
  • Insomnia
  • Abnormally sweaty hands and feet 

In addition to the prescription from doctors, the following asanas or yoga postures will help keep your mind and body healthy for years. Asanas are very effective in purging tension and negativity from our bodily system. Practice these asanas or self-help techniques for a few minutes daily to stay tension free and calm–

Paschimottanasana or Two-Legged Forward Bend– Also called the seated forward bends. It helps in opening the back of your legs and spine. While practising, remember to take deep breaths which will help your body reduce stress and anxiety.

Marjariasana or Cat cow pose – This pose reduces tension from your spine. It is also helps to improve flexibility and endow a calming effect.

Ustarasana or Camel Pose – This pose is for releasing stress and boosting blood circulation, which ensures better oxygen supply and helps heal the mind and body.

SetuBandhasana or Bridge Pose – Similar to camel pose, this too improves blood circulation and opens up the front of spine and heart, which in turn calms your mind and reduces stress.

Butterfly Pose – Known as a simple and basic yoga asana, Butterfly Pose can stretch the inner thighs and groin. Keep the spine erect while doing this posture as it will release tension and give your body a calming effect.

Balasana or Child’s Pose – This pose is highly recommended as a relaxing posture as it provides you with a deeply rejuvenating effect. Moreover, it can also give relief from back and neck pain.

Dhanurasana or Bow Pose – This asana ensures a good stretch to the body and opens up shoulders, chest and neck. Moreover, it also releases tension from these body parts.

Shavasana or Corpse Pose – Shavasana helps reduce stress, anxiety and relieves the mind from depression. This asana is generally performed at the end of a yoga session. You can also think of meditating while doing this asana. It will deeply relax and invigorate your body and mind.

Other useful asanas-

  • Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
  • Janu Shirsasana (One-Legged Forward Bend)
  • Hastapadasana (Standing Forward Bend)
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)
  • Sirsasana (Headstand)

Please note – if you are new to Yoga, have never done it before or are planning to do much more than you were doing before, please take advice from your doctor and guidance from a trained Yoga practitioner so as to avoid harm or injury.

Another vital component of Yoga practice is the breathing exercise or pranayama, which effectively releases anxiety. Pranayama is about paying attention to your breathing which relieves your mind of clutter responsible for creating stress and anxiety. 

Here are some effective breathing practices –

  • KapalBhati Pranayama (Skull-Shining Breathing technique)
  • Bhastrika Pranayama
  • Nadi Shodhan Pranayama (Alternate Nostril Breathing)
  • Bhramari Pranayama (Bee Breath)

Please note – if you are new to Pranayma, have never done it before or are planning to do much more than you were doing before, please take advice from your doctor and guidance from a trained Yoga practitioner so as to avoid harm or injury.

Also read: Psychotherapy Or Talk Therapy Has Enormous Benefits

Role of meditation 

Meditation is also a potential tool for relaxing your distracted mind and achieving a state of calm and peacefulness. A daily routine of meditation helps in making you aware of the ways your mind works. It helps you in avoiding unnecessary stress, and saves you from undue anxieties. 

Every time you are anxious about something, your adrenaline hormone levels go up, which makes the heart beat faster, turns the muscles tense and your body tends to sweat profusely. Medical practitioners believe that daily meditation can help reduce the level of this stress hormone, considerably.

Role of Yoga philosophy 

Following the Yoga philosophy and knowledge can also play a vital role in your overall wellbeing. Yoga philosophy primarily includes – Santosha principle and Aprigraha principle. While the first one is about the value of gratification, the second one helps us conquer greed and desires which often lead to stress and anxiety. Another Yoga teaching called Shaucha principle is about the cleanliness of body and mind. This is particularly relevant now as it helps you stay clean, hence safe from catching infectious diseases.

Yoga philosophy and teachings are also effective in following a nutritious diet and maintaining a healthy lifestyle which in turn helps in overcoming anxiety. You can also consider building the habit of daily prayer, mantra chanting or singing devotional songs which have the potential to not only induce positive energy in your system, but also raise your confidence, calmness and overall wellbeing.

While Yoga practice is a recognised way of dealing with stress and anxiety, you must keep in mind that yoga alone cannot be the only treatment. The asanas and other Yoga methods can only act as complementary tools along with treatment from a consultant physician or specialist and taking the prescribed medications. 

Also read: Looking after your Mental Health during the COVID-19 Pandemic

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