Anxiety is a condition that can affect everyone at some point in their life, from as early as childhood all the way through old age. For some, it is a short-term period of worry about a specific event, for others, it can feel like a life sentence, with every waking moment filled with stress, and worry.
Most people are likely to fall between these two extremes with anxiety rising or falling in terms of intensity and length of time depending on their state of mind and the events that are occurring in their life. Whichever level of anxiety anyone is enduring, it is certainly not a positive experience, and this is why there are the countless books, videos, courses, and therapy sessions which have been created to help people relieve their anxiety.
One of the most effective tools that thousands of people use every day to help relieve their anxiety is yoga. It has many benefits beyond being able to help relieve anxiety such as improved muscle tone, circulation, metabolism, and vitality to name but a few. However, we are talking specifically about how yoga can help relieve anxiety, so let’s explore that further.
Symptoms of Anxiety
As we said in the introduction, anxiety knows no boundaries when it comes to who it can inflict. Young or old, rich or poor, anxiety cares not. It is also a disorder that can manifest itself in several different ways, depending on the individual who has it. This creates difficulty in actually diagnosing it. However, there are some common symptoms which include the following:
- Tense Muscles
- Numbness in Limbs
- Panic Attacks
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Cold and Hot Flushes
- Angry Outbursts
This is not an exhaustive list, and there are many other symptoms that you might experience if you are suffering from anxiety. Whether it is any of these or another symptom, the one thing they all have in common is that they are not pleasant, and this means that they negatively impact on your life. They can also have a detrimental effect on those around you such as your family and your friends.
Why Yoga Can Help
Many of the anxiety symptoms we listed above are physical in nature, such as tight muscles, and there are others that can be described as ‘of the mind,’ such as having difficulty in concentrating. One of the great things about yoga is that it has benefits that can positively impact both your physical and mental well-being.
It stands to reason that when you are physically healthy with lots of energy, your mind is more likely to be healthy too, compared to a scenario where you are overweight and get no exercise. Similarly, a mind which is alert, focused and free from anxiety will more likely be the mind of someone who is generally in good health and more able to fight off any illness that arises.
One yoga program that has proved to be especially effective in achieving both physical and mental benefits for those who have followed it, is ‘Yoga Burn Challenge.’ Its 15 videos take you through a unique sequence of three phases of yoga that allow you to progress at your own pace, and everything is taught by an internationally certified yoga instructor.
Specific Ways Yoga Relieves Anxiety
The fact that this is an article and not a book, means we cannot cover every single yoga technique that helps to relieve anxiety.
That fact alone should give you some idea of why yoga is so popular, given that it has so many different activities, techniques, and movements which are beneficial. What we have focused on is just three of the most effective benefits yoga can provide when it comes to anxiety and trying to relieve it.
Your nervous system and your respiratory system are more closely linked than many people realize, and this is why being able to regulate your breathing can have a huge and positive impact on relieving anxiety.
Think about a time when you were feeling especially anxious. Can you recall what your breathing was like? More than likely it was short, sharp intakes of breath. Breathing rapidly increases the amount of carbon dioxide in our bodies which can create several uncomfortable effects such as dizziness, and it can also be the trigger for panic attacks.
Yoga is an activity which has a lot of focus on how we breathe, and it teaches us to be aware of how we are breathing, especially the rate at which we are inhaling and exhaling. This is further evidenced by the fact that the instructions to many yoga poses have as much to say about how you are breathing than they do about your physical movement and position.
When we are anxious our bodies tend to contract, or more specifically the muscles do. This can mean that several areas of our body become tense, such as our neck, shoulders, back and our jaw area. This becomes a vicious circle as our taut body leads to more anxiety which tenses the muscles further and so on it escalates.
A yoga session can teach us to relax our entire body so that all those tight, tense muscles become looser and thus release the grip that the anxiety had on them. There are specific yoga poses that focus on relaxing and toning different muscle areas and parts of our body.
If you want to discover what these are then you should check out ‘Yoga Burn Challenge,’ which is a program with no fewer than 15 videos that teach some of the most effective yoga poses, with many of them ideal for promoting improved relaxation.
Awareness of Body
We’ve mentioned the physical symptoms of anxiety a few times, and you may have experienced them, but ask yourself just how aware you are of your body — more specifically what is your awareness level of how your body feels as you go through your day?
Being aware that you are tensing up allows you to focus on the area of the body that is tense and directing your thoughts to relax those muscles. Yoga is one of the best ways of tuning your mind to how your body feels, sensing tension, and then letting it go, with some quick yoga poses. Ideally, you should get to the point where you can instantly feel tension in your body and relax it at will.