If you’re feeling anxious, you may notice a knock on effect in your body. Are you clenching your jaw? Are your shoulders up by your ears? Maybe your breathing is a little shallow?
Along with its many other health benefits, yoga is a truly amazing way to help you calm your mind as well as ease the physical discomfort that comes with anxious thoughts and feelings. As you flow through a sequence and bring your awareness to your breath, you get a break from whatever it is that you’re feeling anxious about. Maybe the class will encourage you to let go of your anxious feelings, or maybe you’ll try an uplifting class that will boost your mood.
Certain poses also help to ease anxiety. Here are a few to add to your next sequence to help you feel calmer:
Butterfly pose is a simple yet effective pose to help you feel grounded. Release pent up negative emotions that may be stored in the hips as you open the knees wide, lift your heart and focus on grounding down through the sit bones. Adding a forward fold helps bring your awareness inwards to calm the mind; more on that in the next pose…
Forward folds are both energising and calming at the same time. When practicing this pose whilst feeling anxious, allow yourself to relax into the pose – don’t strain to get your forehead to your shins if it doesn’t come easily. Simply give yourself permission to release tension and bring your awareness inwards, as when you do this, you’re signaling to the brain that all is well.
Child’s pose is a beautiful, restful asana, incorporating a forward fold which already has many anxiety relieving benefits. Child’s pose also allows you to relax the neck, shoulders and upper back, which is where many people hold a lot of tension. Try a supported version by laying over a bolster or cushion, and place a blanket behind your knees for a super-comfy restorative pose.
Moving away from forward folds, tree pose is a grounding pose that encourages you to concentrate fully on the present moment, thus stopping your mind from wandering to your anxious thoughts. For an extra challenge that will leave you glowing if you accomplish it, try closing your eyes for a few seconds! Of course, if you fall out of the pose, no worries! It’s all part of the practice, so try to find self-compassion and have another go!
If you’re more advanced in your practice, you could add a headstand in towards the end of your sequence. Being upside down helps detoxify the adrenals by stimulating blood flow to your head. The challenge of maintaining the post also takes your mind off everything else, as it requires your full concentration! And of course, accomplishing this challenging posture will boost your confidence too!
So there are 5 poses you can try adding to your practice in order to relieve anxiety. I hope you enjoy giving them a try!
What is your favourite benefit of yoga?
Do you find yoga helps calm you when you’re feeling anxious?