A regular yoga practice can be a very effective way of treating anxiety. Read more about how yoga can be helpful for anxiety.
Yoga practices for anxiety
Yoga practices which can be particularly beneficial for anxiety include:
Inversion poses and passive backbends
- Soothing inversions like Downward-Facing Dog pose and passive backbends such as Chair-Supported Inverted Staff Pose open the chest without overstimulating the nervous system
- Forward Bends especially when they are supported, help relieve an anxious mind
Active poses like Warrior poses and Sun Salutations help engage the mind and avoid restlessness
The aim of these postures is to
- Bring awareness to the breath and calm it
- Focus the mind in the present and calm it
- Soften tension from the muscles and face
- Relax the muscles which can lead to a more relaxed mind
While moving in these postures, pay attention to the way your body feels and notice the sensation of the breath moving in and out of your nostrils. This will help ground you in the present moment, which reduces anxiety and worry about the future.
When a pose feels challenging, this may be an opportunity to hold it a little bit longer or extend the stretch a bit further (without pain) to safely experience the sensation of stillness within difficult moments. Yoga poses can show us how difficult emotions and sensations often change and fade away just as quickly as they arise.
Iyengar for anxiety
The poses below have been taken from B.K.S Iyengar (2008 edition), Yoga The Path To Holistic Health as particularly helpful for anxiety.
Hold each one for 5 deep breaths.