Some days are perfectly good and sunny until anxiety strikes and brings about overwhelming fear and discomfort. Suddenly, you can’t seem to take another step forward. Your knees buckle and all you want to do is fade away.
Anxiety knows no master. Often it gives us a sense of defeat. We feel frustrated and take it out on ourselves. When not addressed properly, it can lead to destructive activities that later develop into bad habits, or worse, harmful vices.
The best way to address anxiety is to face it head-on, though anybody with experiences with anxiety knows it’s harder said than done. However, it is good to look at anxiety as a teacher instead of an enemy. Shift your perspective by asking yourself this question: What is my anxiety trying to tell me?
Often, anxiety is a result of deep-seated emotions pent-up for too long. You must reflect on the root of your anxiety and move towards accepting your feelings and situation. Yoga is a great exercise that can help you overcome anxiety and gain insight about yourself. Bookmark these yoga poses in case you find yourself going through a tough time.
When we’re stressed, we often don’t notice that we take shallow breaths and constrict the oxygen in our body. The simple act of breathing fuller and evenly practiced in belly breathing can help our body to relax.
When you begin this exercise, your breathing may be inconsistent and you may feel squeezed in. Concentrate on making your inhales as long as your exhales. You can put your right hand over your heart and the other on your belly to feel their steady rise and fall as you practice.
Taking your mind off your worries and paying full attention to your breathing also allows you to change the way you think. This is a great time to meditate or say your affirmations. As you breathe in, say “I am here” then, breathe out and say “I am home”. Get your list of affirmations out or just enjoy clearing off your head, your practice is completely up to you.
Come down onto your mat on all fours, with your hands higher than your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips. Take a breath and lift your knees away from the floor after you exhale. It’s okay to keep your knees slightly bent and the heels lifted away from the floor.
With every exhale, challenge yourself by pushing yourself farther away from the floor and straightening your leg without letting your knees lock. Stay in this pose for ten breaths and let strength flow through your whole body, from the tips of your fingers to your heels.
Downward-facing dog offers a full body stretch that rejuvenates and tones up the whole body. This pose alleviates anxiety by making you focus on your body, highlighting the effort it takes to support you. In practicing this pose, and yoga in general, remember to go only where your body feels comfortable.
Make sure you have a thick mat or blanket when practicing child’s pose. If you’re at home, you can do this pose on the bed while in your pajamas. The key to child’s pose is comfort.
Sit down with your knees positioned together or wider than your ribcage. Lower your forehead to the mat and reach your arms above your head as far as it’s comfortable. Release tension from your body and allow yourself to settle and relax with each breath.
Sometimes, feeling safe in our physical or mental space can cause anxiety. Child’s pose makes one feel protected, grounds your energy, allows you to check in with yourself. As you place your forehead on the floor, relax completely and channel the sensations of your body.
Acknowledge how you feel and accept your emotions instead of avoiding them. Take them in without judgment and allow yourself to be an observer of your own emotions, and start building a better relationship with your anxieties.
This beneficial pose requires no mat and can be done anytime. Simply stand with your feet at hip-distance apart. Inhale deeply as you stretch up and bend forward. Then, hold on to your elbows and let go. Shake and nod your head to release tension from your neck, shoulders, and upper back.
When we’re stressed, we tense up our neck and shoulders as if we are soldiers on the battlefield, ready to strike. This accentuates the tension we feel and makes our anxiety worse. The standing forward bend pose helps us let go of the tension and the negative feelings we harbor.
Invite yourself to lie down, close your eyes, and be at complete ease. Spread your legs and arms as wide as your mat or as much as you deem comfortable. Remove yourself from what causes you stress. Stay in the present and let your body and mind breathe.
In our fast-paced world, there is the craze to do as much as possible. We have lists and apps that tell us all the things we must accomplish. Our calendars are packed with events and meetings. When you’re in corpse pose, the only thing you need to do is breathe and be present.
Take this mindset with you as you move away from your mat and see how much better you feel without putting unnecessary pressure on yourself. This is what the practice of yoga is ultimately for—to make you and your life better.
Practicing yoga regularly can bring calm and ease into your life. It gives you a deeper self-insight and improves your physical and mental health. It gives you the strength and tools to face the mental and emotional challenges in your daily life.
Yoga isn’t a cure-all, but it’s an extremely beneficial addition to anybody’s self-care routine. Practice these yoga poses when you feel under pressure or uncomfortable, and notice how a few minutes of mindful movement can shift your mood and thoughts.