When anxiety hits, say goodbye to any hope of rational thinking. During an attack, breathing becomes rapid and thoughts often spin out of control making it more and more difficult to focus and function properly.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million adults in the U.S. suffer from anxiety. If you or a loved one is affected, you’re aware that an attack can happen anywhere: at home, parties, grocery store and so on. But there is good news.
Many studies reveal that yoga can lead to significant reduction in perceived levels of anxiety in women who suffer from anxiety disorders. One in particular suggests that, “yoga can be considered as a complementary therapy or an alternative method for medical therapy in the treatment of anxiety disorders.”
Practiced yogis understand how yoga can defeat depression, insomnia, anxiety and many other illnesses. Mindfully breathing and moving through asanas (poses) helps to soften tension and release emotions that do not serve our bodies.
Ready to start your moving meditation? Let’s get grounded with the following poses!
1. Get moving
Yoga asanas are just one of the eight limbs of yoga. Different poses offer different benefits. Practice the following poses when you’re in need of a little relaxation or looking to regain focus and clarity (if you’re not familiar with a pose, search the internet for images and instructions to safely get into each):
- Bow pose
- Fish pose
- One-legged forward bend
- Bridge pose
- Cat stretch
- Two-legged forward bend
- Standing forward bend
- Downward facing dog
- Corpse pose
2. Just breathe
Pranayama. “Prana” means breath or energy and “yama” means control. This Sanskrit term refers to the practice of controlled breathing exercises. Both pranayama and asana work hand in hand and are considered the highest form of purification and self-discipline for the mind and body according the “Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.”
A regular yoga practice will help you breathe properly on and off the mat to help you relax your body and mind completely. Here are four breathing techniques to try:
- Balanced breathing: In a comfortable seated position, close your eyes and bring awareness to your breath. Tap into your “ujjayi” breath or “victorious breath.” To do this, seal your lips and breathe in and out through your nose while constricting the muscles in the back of your throat. Inhale deeply to the count of four and exhale slowly to the count of four. With time, you may change the duration or choose to retain the breath for a moment after each count.
- Abdominal breathing: Lie down and place both hands on your stomach. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Practicing your ujjayi breath, breathe into your belly and watch your hands rise and fall with each breath. Do this for about 5-10 minutes
- Alternate nostril breathing: In a comfortable, relaxed position, press your thumb against your nostril (right thumb for right nostril and the same for the left side) and inhale through the unblocked nostril. After you’ve inhaled, close that nostril and release the other one. Exhale through the other nostril. Do this for about 3 minutes.
- Humming bee breath: In a comfortable seated position, block all sound from your ears by pressing your index fingers into your ears. Inhale normally and as you exhale, start releasing a continuous, low, loud humming sound. Practice until you feel completely relaxed and calm.
3. Meditation for relaxation
It’s a great idea to create a personal meditation space in your home. Through meditation, you’ll learn how to control your breath and work to release negative emotions and stress. Meditation is a great way to work toward a relaxed, peaceful state. Your meditation is a great time to practice the breathing techniques listed above.
However, just like asana, meditation takes practice (read Debunked: 4 Common Myths About Meditation). From guided meditation to sound meditation and reciting mantras, there are many forms of meditation. Find what works for you. The following three articles offer helpful meditation tips for different situations and lifestyles:
1. 3 Alternative Ways to Meditate
- Guided visualizations
- Sound meditation
- Walking meditation
- How to get started and create a relaxing environment
- Encourage daily habits
- Incorporate the five senses
How do you deal with anxiety? Share your tips in the comment section below!
To read more of Alice’s work, click here.