Yoga can be used for many things. It can help us stretch our muscles, relieve pain, make us more flexible, and relax the mind.
As a result, people do yoga for a wide range of different reasons.
However, one common reason people practise yoga is to deal with stress and anxiety.
Many people use a combination of different methods to control their symptoms of anxiety.
This includes lifestyle treatments, therapy, and alternative treatments like yoga.
Today, we’re going to take a closer look at how yoga can help relieve anxiety.
We’ll show you the main benefits associated with it and some of the best poses you can practise.
If you want to learn more about holistic yoga & anxiety, make sure you stick around because we have a lot to tell you!
How Does It Help?
So, how does yoga help relieve anxiety? Well, the answer to that question is where things start to get a little technical.
If you suffer from chronic anxiety, your nervous system, which controls your fight, flight, and freeze system operates in overdrive.
Therefore, your body has a heightened reaction to things it perceives as threats. This is what leads to anxiety responses.
As a result, those who suffer from chronic anxiety also have an underactive parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the rest and digest system.
The key to reducing the symptoms of anxiety lies in stimulating the rest and digest system. According to a Frontiers study, this can be done through yoga.
This study found that yoga helps stimulate the vagus nerve. This nerve is a key part of the rest and digest system.
So, essentially, yoga helps to modulate our fight, flight, and freeze responses.
What Are The Benefits?
Now you know a bit more about how yoga can help reduce the symptoms of anxiety, let’s take a look at some of its benefits.
We’ve listed some of yoga’s benefits in relation to anxiety below!
Yoga Stimulates The Vagus Nerve
We’ve already briefly mentioned that yoga stimulates the vagus nerve but it deserves another mention because it is arguably the most important benefit when it comes to coping with anxiety.
Yoga stimulates the vagus nerve by enhancing interoception and how we perceive sensations in our body.
This helps our bodies distinguish between safe, fearful, and dangerous situations.
Yoga Promotes Relaxation
Meditation is one of the best ways to relax. It clears the mind and makes us think about our thoughts and feelings.
Yoga poses allow us to observe our thoughts and build awareness. This helps promote relaxation, which in turn reduces the symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Yoga Can Connect Our Mind And Body
Yoga can connect our mind and body through breathwork. This is a powerful tool you can use to calm the sympathetic nervous system.
Certain breathing techniques can help us feel more relaxed, calm, and happy.
Yoga practices like Pranayama can also help decrease stress, improve sleep, increase mindfulness, reduce blood pressure, and enhance cognitive performance.
Together, these things can help reduce the feelings of stress and anxiety people feel daily.
Poses You Can Try
There are many different types of yoga and poses you can try to decrease the symptoms of stress and anxiety.
As of yet, scientists don’t know which poses are the best for anxiety but there are common poses most people perform.
We’ll now show you the common poses you can try if you have anxiety.
1. Hero Pose
The hero pose is one of the easiest yoga poses you can hold. It will help you find your centre, focus your breathing, and relax.
During this pose, you’ll work the quadriceps, knee muscles, ankle muscles, and spine. Follow the steps below to perform the hero pose!
- To start, put yourself in a kneeling position with your knees together and your feet slightly wider than your hips.
- Try to keep the tops of your feet flat against the floor.
- Now, slowly sit back until your bottom touches the floor.
- Put your hands on your legs and sit up straight to stretch the spine.
- Hold the position for 3 to 5 minutes.
2. Triangle Pose
The triangle pose is an energising yoga position that helps release tension in your back and neck. This is a great stretch to perform if you want to release stress.
You’ll work the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus, and latissimus dorsi when performing this pose. Here are the steps to do it!
- Stand up and place your feet wide apart.
- Point the toes on your left foot forward and the toes on your right foot at a slight angle.
- Extend out by lifting your arms. Your palms should be facing down.
- Next, extend your torso forward and reach forward with your left hand.
- To bring your right hip back, hinge at the hip joint. Move your left hand toward your leg.
- Push your right arm toward the roof.
- Look in a direction that makes you feel comfortable.
- Hold the position for one minute before switching to the opposite side.
3. Upward-Facing Dog
The upward-facing dog pose is another stretch that releases tension. It also awakens the upper body and makes you feel alive.
You’ll make your chest and abdomen work when holding this pose. Find the steps to hold an upward-facing dog pose below!
- Lie on your front.
- Point your toes down and out.
- Keep your hands on the floor and near your shoulders.
- Now, push off the ground using your hands and feet until your body is off the floor.
- Push your head and chest back until it curves. Meanwhile, keep your shoulders back.
- Take 5 or 6 deep breaths before releasing your position slowly.
4. Downward-Facing Dog
You can try the downward-facing dog too. This pose is essentially the opposite of the upward-facing dog. We’ve outlined the necessary steps below!
- Get down on all fours, ensuring your back stays flat.
- Push into the floor using your toes to lift your hips into the air.
- Straighten your arms.
- Try to straighten your legs as much as possible too.
- Raise your hips higher by pushing your legs into the floor more.
- Take some deep breaths and slowly release the stretch.
5. Forward Bend
The final yoga pose we have for you is the forward bend. This is another easy pose beginners can perform, so give it a try.
This pose helps stretch the spine, release stress, reduce the symptoms of anxiety, and improve digestion.
Here are the steps you need to follow!
- Stand straight with your hands to the sides.
- Bend your knees slightly.
- Bending your knees as much as necessary, bend your hips and gently fold your torso down to your stomach.
- Let your arms hang or hold your feet.
- Hold the pose for 5 or 6 deep breaths and release.
Yoga is a valuable practice that helps reduce the symptoms of anxiety and makes us feel more relaxed.
In this post, we’ve shown you how yoga can help, its benefits, and some of the most popular yoga poses you can try.
Now you have all this information, why don’t you give some of the poses a try and see what you think?
Frequently Asked Questions
There are no limits to how much yoga you can do for anxiety. 10 minutes a day or two to three big sessions a week will dramatically decrease symptoms of anxiety.
While there is no concrete evidence that suggests the perfect length of time, some studies have found that a 12-week yoga intervention programme can massively decrease the symptoms of anxiety.