There are many alternatives to medication when treating anxiety. One of the best ways to do so is to practice yoga. Science has proven that exercise helps keep a person calm, but yoga does more than that. Yoga helps you focus on your body and breathing, so that you can calm yourself naturally, without any other external stimuli. Because of this, it is a good choice for those who prefer to go a more down-to-earth route to alleviating anxiety.
Below are five poses which have been shown to help conquer stress and leave a relaxed, restored mindset behind. All of these are fairly easy, so that even newbies to yoga can do them perfectly with little or no practice. The equipment needed is fairly cheap: A yoga mat (or, barring that, any surface that will keep you from losing your grip), workout clothes that won’t encumber you or get in your way, and free space in which to do the actual poses. The space needed could be anything, from a yoga studio, to your backyard, to your office, or even in line at the grocery store! These workouts are simple, soothing, and effective. Before you know it, you’ll be calm and centered again!
As a general rule, when doing yoga, nothing should hurt. If anything becomes uncomfortable, painful, or otherwise “not right”, stop. If you have back injuries, neck injuries, high blood pressure, or anything else that could impede a good yoga routine, talk to your doctor before beginning. Good luck and namaste!
Child’s Pose is the first pose that the novice yogi should learn. It’s the position that most yoga exercises start in, and one that is reverted back to if the poses become too difficult. Because of this, it is considered a very calming, peaceful pose. For those with anxiety, this is an easy pose to learn that will help cut through stress.
To start this pose, you’ll be on your hands and knees, your big toes touching. For the proper positioning, make sure that your hands are directly beneath your shoulders and that your knees are hip-width apart. Exhale and begin to bow forward, keeping your arms out in front of you. Your chest should rest on your thighs. Your arms can remain as loose as you feel comfortable. While in this pose, take a few deep, calming breaths until you feel your anxiety begin to dissipate.
This is the calmest of the Warrior poses. Because this requires good control of your body and a constant attention to yourself and your balance, this is excellent for quieting a restless mind.
Start with your feet hip-width apart. Next, turn to face your left, and carefully begin to widen your stance until it has been widened approximately four feet. If this is extremely uncomfortable or painful, narrow your stance. It should stretch, but not hurt. Turn your right foot forward, toes pointed in the same direction as your torso. Your left foot should be turned to the side, perpendicular to your right. Making sure to keep both of your feet on the ground, turn your torso and pelvis so that they align with your right foot. Raise your hands above your head, keeping your breathing mindful as you do. Slowly begin to shift your weight to your right foot, lifting your left leg in the process. Continue until both your torso and left leg are parallel to the ground, giving your body a “T” shape. To aid in balance, contract your abdominal muscles. Focus on your body, balance, and breathing. Soon, you’ll feel calmer.
The Tree Pose is one of the best yoga poses for easing anxiety. While not as difficult a balancing act as Warrior III, it still requires body focus, which helps take you out of your anxious moment. This is another good option for the yoga-inexperienced, because it doesn’t take much practice to do correctly.
Begin with both feet on the floor at hip-width. Stand tall, with your shoulders back; posture is key here. Shift your weight to your right foot. Bending just your left knee (don’t allow yourself to lean), bring your left foot up to your right inner thigh. If you can’t reach that far, no worries: Just rest it just below your right knee instead. Wherever you rest it, make sure that your toes are pointed at the floor. To keep yourself balanced, make sure that your pelvis is resting over your right foot. Now carefully begin to press your left foot into your right thigh or calf, pressing back with the thigh or calf. Depending on what feels right to you, you can either bring your hands together in front of your heart in a “prayer pose”, or bring your hands together over your head, elongated the spine. You can look either skyward or straight, whichever feels natural to you. Take a few deep breaths until you feel centered and calm again.
The Triangle Pose is another simple yoga pose that will help calm an anxious mind. This soothing stretching pose will help relax you both physically and mentally. A perfect alternative to a massage, this will loosen tight muscles naturally and on your own.
Begin with your feet hip-width apart. Take a few deep breaths, so that you become conscious of your body. Then step your feet out so that they are about four feet apart. Your feet should both be facing the same direction, with your heels facing behind you. After you’re stable, turn your right foot so that your toes point to your right. Next, pivot your left foot until it is at a 45-degree angle. Lifting through your feet, bring your arms up until they are parallel with the floor. Take a deep breath. When you exhale, shift so that your left hand is skyward, palm up, and your right is touching your right knee or ankle. Keep your alignment. Hold for a few breaths until you feel yourself begin to loosen.
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