Yoga for anxiety and stress is all about focusing on your breath and holding a certain pose. There are many yogic poses or asanas that have the ability to calm your mind and can be excellent mood enhancers. When you perform yoga for stress or anxiety, it helps to shut out the chatter in your mind, leading you to a relaxed state.
Trusting Yoga for Stress and Anxiety Relief
When we are multitasking and managing too many things in a day like meeting work targets and handling family commitments, late working hours, irregular sleep patterns, and anxiety or stress are bound to happen.
The mind, in such a scenario, needs a break that shuts out the noise and clutter and diverts your attention. Yoga for anxiety and stress is one such avenue. Yoga is a combination of maintaining a physical pose, breathing technique, meditation, and relaxation. It helps you reduce anxiety and stress, controls blood pressure, and eventually improves overall health.
The physical and mental discipline derived from practising yoga will result in a tranquil mind and body balance. Therefore, practising some yoga for stress poses is recommended for just a few minutes every day. Do it diligently and you can greatly improve your overall well-being.
Yoga Asanas for Stress and Anxiety
There are many forms, styles, and intensities of yoga. Some of the asanas that benefit anxiety and help with stress management are given below. Practice these asanas regularly for optimum results:
This asana is reliable when you want to do yoga for stress. It greatly helps in managing stress and anxiety. Besides stress management, it also strengthens the arms, chest, legs, knees, and ankles. It opens up the hips, spine, hamstrings, shoulders, groin, and calves. It brings about mental equilibrium which is the most important aspect while dealing with stress and anxiety.
- Stand straight with your feet about 4 inches apart.
- The right foot should be turned out at 90 degrees and the left foot turned in at 15 degrees.
- The centre of the right foot and the centre of the arch of the left foot should be aligned.
- The body weight should be entirely on the feet while the feet are pressing the ground.
- Take a deep breath and as you exhale bend downwards from the hip towards your right while keeping the waist straight. The left hand should be stretched upwards into the air while bringing down the right hand towards the ground. Both the arms should be in a straight line.
- Rest your right hand either on the floor, shin, or ankle as per your comfort level and keep the waist straight. Stretch your left hand upwards towards the ceiling and keep in line with the shoulder top. Turn your neck to the left and look towards the left palm.
- Keep the pelvis and chest wide open and ensure to bend sideways and not backwards or forward.
- Stretch as much as possible. Keep steady. Take deep breaths. Each time you exhale, you will feel more relaxed. Focus on your body and breath.
- Stay in the position for some time and then come up as you inhale and bring your arms down and straighten your legs.
- Repeat the same on the other side.
2. Baddha Konasana (Butterfly Pose)
This form of Yoga for anxiety is very simple and will bring you into a meditative state. It keeps you grounded when you are feeling anxious and stressed. With a focus on breath, you will feel calm and relaxed. It is also beneficial for digestive health and helps in weight loss as well.
- Sit with your spine straight and legs stretched forward.
- Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together.
- Hold your ankle or your feet.
- Push your heel towards the groin to the extent possible.
- Keep your arms and shoulders relaxed.
- Let your knees down to the ground as you exhale.
- Press your sitting bone towards the floor. Elongate your spine by keeping the crown of your head pointing towards the ceiling.
- Stay in the position as long as you can.
- You can also move the knees up and down like the wings of a butterfly.
- To release from the position, unlock your hands and stretch your legs forward.
3. Vrikshasana (Tree Pose)
This is an excellent pose when you want to do Yoga for anxiety and stress. A lot of focus is required to stay balanced in this pose. It helps you to quieten your thoughts and keeps you calm. This pose is a great stress buster. It also helps in strengthening the muscles, ligaments, and tendons of the leg.
- To begin with, stand straight.
- Balance on the left foot and lift your right leg. The right leg should be bent at the knee.
- With the toes of your right foot facing down, place your right foot towards your left thigh.
- Bring your palms together to the namaskar position and keep it at chest level.
- Lift your arms over your head till you feel the upward stretch.
- Take deep breaths while holding the position.
- To release from the posture, lower your arms to the chest level and separate the palms. Bring the right leg down and stand straight.
- Repeat it with the right leg.
4. Setu Bandha Asana (Bridge Pose)
Setu Bandha Asana is an inversion pose and is highly beneficial for the nervous system. With the head below the heart in this pose, the brain receives freshly oxygenated blood that helps manage stress, anxiety, and sleeplessness.
- Lie on your back.
- Bend your knees. With the feet pressing down, keep your legs hip-width apart.
- With palms facing downwards keep your arms along the sides.
- Inhale and lift your hip upwards with the spine off the floor.
- Lift the chest up by pressing down the arms and shoulders. Keep the Mula bandha, legs, and buttocks engaged to lift the hips higher.
- Stay in the position for about four to eight breaths.
- Exhale and bring the spine down to the floor.
5. Viparita Karani (Inverted Lake Pose)
Viparita Karani is a pose that when practised for 20 minutes, is believed to have the same effect on the nervous system as when you have a nap. It relaxes and calms the mind and helps you manage stress. It also has anti-ageing benefits. It helps reduce the wrinkles and delay the ageing process. You can use bolsters or blankets while performing this asana to relax completely by supporting your lower back. You can also perform the asana by sitting close to a wall.
- Lie in a supine position with legs together.
- Raise the legs off the ground by keeping them straight.
- Lift the buttocks by pushing down on the arms and hands.
- Your back and head should be resting on the floor.
- Support your lower back with your hands. Elbows should rest on the floor.
- The head and neck should be in a neutral position. Face and throat should be softened.
- Stay in this position for some time.
- To release the posture, roll onto one side slowly.
6. Balasana (Child’s Pose)
This is a calming pose and benefits if you are having anxiety and stress issues. If your sleep is affected by anxiety, then you should necessarily practice this pose. The regulated breathing technique in this asana keeps your mind calm and relieves fatigue. This asana improves blood circulation and strengthens the muscles of the hips, thighs, and ankles. It also relieves backache.
- Sit on your knees with the buttocks touching the heels
- Place your hand on your thighs with palms facing down.
- While exhaling, bring your chest between your knees slowly. Stretch your hand forward.
- Hold the position for 2 to 3 minutes. Keep breathing gently.
- Inhale and come up slowly to the original position.
- You can repeat the asana 4 to 5 times.
Anxiety and stress have become a part of life in this fast-moving world. If not managed, anxiety disorders can hamper the ability to perform and think. There are several ways of anxiety and stress management like relaxation techniques, breathing techniques, cognitive therapy, etc.
If practised well, these techniques can be immensely beneficial. Other ways to deal with anxiety are building self-esteem, taking help from support groups, or starting with medication. But the efficacy of yoga for anxiety and stress is far better. Practise the asanas mentioned above with dedication to efficiently handle as well as overcome anxiety and stress.