Anxiety knows no limits in terms of who it can affect. In many cases, anxiety will be a short-term condition that passes quickly once a particular event or scenario has passed. For others, it can be very debilitating, with their anxiety becoming a chronic condition that they have to live with every day.
Of course, there are many treatments for anxiety which can include medication, therapy, and counseling, for example, and these can often prove to be successful. In many cases, patients will pursue one of these or a combination of them. They may also look at alternatives with some examples being hypnosis, acupuncture, herbal treatments and the one which we are going to focus on, yoga.
There have been many studies, and indeed many individual testimonials, that yoga can help combat anxiety, and one of the reasons it does so, is that the many poses which form part of yoga, can promote stillness, calmness, controlled breathing and a reduction in muscle tension to name but four.
Getting Started With Yoga
While there may be yoga classes locally, many of those who want to try yoga to help alleviate their anxiety are reluctant to ‘go public,’ and the thought of doing so simply adds to their anxiety levels. For these reasons, a great suggestion is to start doing yoga at home and do it right by following a proper yoga course or program. This lets you get used to some of the terminology, practice the poses until you get them right, and you can do all that at your own pace and in your time.
One program which is extremely popular with beginners is the ‘Yoga Burn Challenge.‘ The reason it is so popular with beginners in particular, is that it is a progressive program which starts with ‘Foundation’ poses, then moves to ‘Transitional’ poses and finally ‘Mastery’ poses by which time you will be more proficient and more confident.
Yoga Poses That Can Help Reduce Anxiety
The yoga poses that follow have many benefits with some of them being physical benefits, some mental, and some which produce both. We will give a brief description of what the pose is and how you should position yourself, and also what we believe is the specific benefit in terms of helping to deal with anxiety.
This is so-called because the position you are in is akin to small child kneeling on the floor. You first kneel on your yoga mat, keeping your legs together. Next, bend forward slowly until your chest is touching your knees and your head is resting on the floor.
Bring your shoulders forward, rest your hands by the side of your feet with your palms facing upwards. Hold this position for a period of 5 slow breaths, in and out. The posture allows you a few moments of peaceful relaxation, that helps the mind to quieten. During this time all thoughts that may otherwise be causing you to stress or worry should not be present.
While it could be better named, the corpse pose is an excellent way of putting your body at ease and placing yourself in a complete state of relaxation. Simply lay on your back on a yoga mat and have your legs close together, but do not let them touch. Place your arms by your sides.
As you lie there with your eyes closed, breathe in and out with deep breaths. You are going to lie in this position for about 5 minutes but during that time you are going to focus on different parts of your body.
Starting with the top of your head, focus on it for about 10-15 seconds, then move to the side of your head and focus on that. Continue focusing on different areas as you move down your body until you finally focus the soles of your feet.
This is a classic pose which is often how yoga is characterized by movies and TV. Standing on your yoga mat, lift one leg, and bend it at the knee. Rest the foot of that leg, on your standing leg, at a point that is as close to the top of your standing leg as possible. Bring the palms of your hands together, just in front of you.
Obviously, you are going to have to focus on staying balanced as you do this pose, and this helps you to stay in the present moment. Otherwise, if your mind starts to drift, and especially drift towards things that are causing you anxiety, you are likely to lose your balance.
Extended Triangle Pose
This pose requires a bit more physical effort than some of the others, and that is why it is used by those who not only want to reduce their anxiety, but it can also be part of a program to help you burn calories, and thus reduce body fat.
You start from a standing position, and as you breathe out, allow your legs to split so that your feet are about 3 feet apart. With your palms facing down towards the floor, stretch both arms out to the sides.
Next, you want to turn your right foot away from you at an angle of 90° and then turn your left foot 90° so that it is facing in the same direction as your right foot. You now want to tighten your thigh muscles and turn the right thigh away from you. Now, bending at your hips, bend your body towards that right leg.
The next stage is to now twist your torso to the left so that you are facing forward. Now lean down so that your right hand is holding your right ankle, or if you cannot reach your ankle, touch your shin instead. Take you left arm and stretch it upwards as far as you can. Hold this position for 30 seconds and then lean and touch your left ankle.
While the immediate benefits this body stretch produces such as reduced tension in muscles and potentially reducing symptoms of ailments like sciatica, are physical it also provides a great means for reducing stress as you focus on holding your position.
This combination of both physical and mental benefits is something which the yoga program ‘Yoga Burn Challenge’ can give you. It obviously helps with basics like breathing and stillness, but it also has many poses that can help burn body fat, which if you happen to be anxious about your weight is a double win.