Practicing yoga is not only an effective stress reliever, but also a way to ease symptoms of anxiety. By transferring focus and attention to the body and breath, yoga can help to temper anxiety while also releasing physical tension. Anxiety is the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting roughly 40 million adults nationwide, or about 18 percent of us.
The following yoga poses are organized into a sequence that can be practiced together in this order, or individually on an as-needed basis to help alleviate stress and anxiety. Remember to focus on your breath as you move through the poses. Closing your eyes may also help you relax and go within to achieve a more meditative state.
This sequence is primarily designed for beginners, with the exception of the headstand. If your practice is more advanced, try mixing in some standing balancing poses like Eagle Pose, Half Moon Pose and Tree Pose. Try holding standing pose for 30-60 seconds on each side. These poses can alleviate stress and anxiety by forcing us out of our monkey mind to focus on the present moment.
Yoga is a practice, not a competition. Start where you are and proceed with caution. To avoid injury, listen to your body and don’t push further than feels good.
1.Anjali Mudra (Salutation Seal) See photo above.
Practicing Anjali Mudra is an excellent way to induce a meditative state of awareness. Most of the time we perform it with our hands in the center of our heart chakra. This represents the balance and harmony between the right and left side reunited on our center. This balance can be not only physical but also mental and emotional, and the idea is to bring us to the center to prepare ourselves for meditation and contemplation. Start this sequence by practicing this mudra while seated in a comfortable cross-legged position with your eyes closed.
2.Sukhasana (Easy Pose)
Easy Pose has some great benefits in addition to promoting groundedness and inner calm, such as: opens your hips, lengthens your spine, amplifies the state of serenity, tranquility, and eliminates anxiety, relieves physical and mental exhaustion and tiredness. Focus on your breath in this pose and sit still with a straight spine for at least 60 seconds.
This pose provides a gentle massage to the spine and belly organs while acting as a powerful stress buster. This pose is often paired with Cow Pose on the inhale for a gentle, flowing vinyasa. Marjaryasana also benefits overall health by stimulating the digestive tract and spinal fluid. For proper alignment place wrists directly under the shoulders and knees under the hips.
4.Bitilasana (Cow Pose)
Cow Pose is an easy, gentle way to warm up the spine. This pose is often paired with Cat Pose on the exhale for a gentle, flowing vinyasa. In addition to relieving stress and calming the mind, this pose also: massages and stimulates organs in the belly, like the kidneys and adrenal glands, and creates emotional balance. For proper alignment place wrists directly under the shoulders and knees under the hips.
5.Uttana Shishosana (Extended Puppy Pose)
This pose is a cross between Child’s Pose and Downward Facing Dog. It lengthens the spine and calms the mind and invigorates the body. This pose also relieves symptoms of chronic stress, tension, and insomnia.