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7 Yoga Poses for Reducing Anxiety

7 Yoga Poses for Reducing Anxiety

When it comes to mental health and taking care of our mind and body, we must take it seriously. Don’t put yourself on the back burner.

Apart from therapy and medicine, many people have started to turn to alternative treatments for stress and anxiety.

Many people suffer from anxiety and while it is treatable, only 43.2% are actually receiving treatment.

Research has shown that yoga helps relieve stress and anxiety, even though this wasn’t its initial purpose. 

Yoga wasn’t developed as treatment for anxiety, but it’s very effective in calming the mind and body.

How Does Yoga Help With Anxiety?

Now, anxiety happens when our body and mind are reacting to the outside world.

Our nervous system has picked up on some sort of danger and this is where we enter the fight, flight or freeze zone

When our body is reacting to these outside factors, our internal world goes haywire.

Our thoughts and emotions are all over the place, while our heart rate, blood pressure and breathing all spike up.

Yoga helps us calm this internal world down so we can continue to live on and remain calm in the face of chaos.

Physical postures, meditation and practicing breathing help in calming the body and mind. But if you suffer from severe anxiety, we do advise you to seek out a professional.

Yoga Poses to Try

1. Standing Forward Fold

With this pose, start at the top of your mat. Stand tall, with feet hip-width apart and with your arms at your sides.

Back is straight and the crown of your head is reaching for the ceiling.

Inhale through your nose and on your exhale, bend forward slowly. Bend your knees as well as to not put too much strain on your hamstrings.

Take note that you should be bending from your hips and reaching for the ground.

If it’s within your practice, try to touch the floor or even grab your ankles. If not, just let your hands dangle at the sides of your legs.

2. Downward-Facing Dog

As you are in your forward fold, bend your knees and put your hands on the mat. Then step your right foot back and then your left.

You may bring your heels to the ground, but if you’re too stiff, leave them up or try pedaling your feet in order to alleviate the strain.

You can stay in this pose for about 5 breaths, through the nose and out the mouth.

3. Cat-Cow Stretch

Now, slowly bend your knees and get down into Table-top pose, straight back. Align your wrists with your shoulders and knees with your hips.

Inhale slowly while you look up to the sky and drop your belly toward the ground. Round your back, bring your chin to your chest and exhale slowly.

You may repeat this sequence however many times you like.

4. Cobra Pose

When you’re done with your Cat-Cow, push your knees back and gently lie down on your belly. Your hands are on either side of your chest, close to your ribs.

Inhale slowly and raise your head and chest.

You may stay here with your arms bent at the elbows, but if it’s within your practice, you may come all the way up with your arms extended.

Your hips and thighs should be on the ground.

5. Warrior 1 Pose

From Cobra pose, you want to gently lift yourself up to a Downward-facing Dog again. Stay in this pose for 5 breaths.

Then, look up and step your right foot forward, right between your arms, and bend your leg.

Your ankle should be aligned with your knee (don’t let it extend past the ankle).

Use your core to slowly lift yourself up, if you need support you can always hold on to something (e.g. a wall). 

Next, look up and raise your arms over your head, with a slight bend in the back. Hold this pose for as long as you can.

Step to the top of your mat again and repeat these steps, only with your left foot forward now.

6. Tree Pose

After you have done your round of Warrior 1, you will end up at the top of your mat with both legs hip-width apart.

Shift your weight to one leg and lift the other, putting the sole of your foot on your ankle, knee or inner thigh, whatever works best for you.

Inhale while lifting your arms above your head, and exhale while bringing them back down to heart-center, palms together.

7. Child’s Pose

After having both feet on the ground, step to the back of your mat and sit down on your knees.

Bend forward at the hips with your arms extended forward and your palms on the mat.

You may keep your legs together or spread out your knees, whatever feels good for you, but do keep your butt on your feet.

Inhale and exhale slowly for about 10 times, let your breath animate the physical body.

Limitations of Yoga for Anxiety

While yoga seems to be a good way to treat some symptoms of anxiety, it is not the Holy Grail.

It is a great way to calm your mind and alleviate stress, but it isn’t foolproof when treating severe stress and anxiety.

People who experience severe symptoms may need to seek help from a mental health professional or their doctor.

When Should I Seek Help for Anxiety?

We should seek help from a professional when our anxiety keeps us from fulfilling our daily tasks, it makes us do things like miss work or blow off social gatherings.

If we leave this anxiety to marinate, it may lead to an anxiety disorder, which is marked with excessive fear and unnecessary worry that may last for months on end.

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