It seems there is a huge increase in the amount of people affected by anxiety these days. It doesn’t discriminate between age, gender or race. My beautiful 90 year old Grandmother is not even immune to its effects. The thought of knowing your partner of a lifetime could be gone in the next heartbeat is not an easy one to erase from your mind. It can have such an impact that it can stop you from really enjoying your life and the people you love. Anxiety has such a profound effect on the mind and body and makes small daily tasks feel like a huge challenge due to the constant worrying thoughts that can cloud your judgment. Using yoga for anxiety relief has so many benefits and just doing a short session once or twice a day can improve your ability to manage anxiety and even prevent it.
“Yoga is a low-risk method for healing the body and mind. Often the positive effects can be felt after just one class.”
Exercise and Endorphins
It is no secret that exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good. Even just five minutes of exercise and breathing can change your mood. It’s a funny thing. The thought of preparing to do exercise can invoke negative thoughts generally due to an internal association but if you just start, once you are moving you find that your whole mindset has changed and often you will want to continue longer than you intended at the beginning of your session. Use these to your advantage.
The connection Yoga makes between your and body is a strong one. Mindfulness is all about being in the now and noticing the thoughts and feelings you are having without being critical of them. During your yoga session you focus on your breath and on the feelings in your body as you stretch and activate different muscle groups. This brings you to the here and now. Practicing Mindfulness has shown to be effective at reducing anxiety attacks. Some soothing poses like “child’s pose” and “down dog” can be done at anytime you feel the stress rising.
Deep and controlled breathing works well to calm the mind and body. When we are in fight or flight mode our breathing becomes shallow and rapid as adrenaline increases. By consciously controlling the depth and speed of our breaths we can send a message to the brain that the threat is gone and it can relax. Yoga and breathing combined creates mindfulness making it very powerful in relieving anxiety.
Weather you practice yoga in a class or at home the atmosphere is such that it automatically induces calmness. Your yoga teacher will usually play relaxing music and adjust the temperature and lighting to make sure all students are comfortable. There is even more you can do to create a calming atmosphere if you practice at home. You can set up your space to suit your own style. Add your own music and introduce some essential oils either diluted and applied topically on your skin or by using an ultrasonic essential oil diffuser. Adding citrus oils will create an uplifting atmosphere or you can add some woody oils to create a grounding atmosphere. I absolutely love using oils during my practice. It enhances everything and smells divine.
In conclusion, Yoga is, in my opinion, hands down the best tool to have in your kit when dealing with anxiety. It doesn’t matter what your fitness or flexibility level is. Even my grandmother practices gentle yoga. There are plenty of Apps to get you started on your yoga journey at home if a class is not your thing or not available. You can check out the benefits of doing Yoga at Home and you can see what my favorite Yoga App is here.