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In today’s fast-paced and stressful world, it’s no wonder that anxiety levels are on the rise. If you constantly battle anxious thoughts and feelings, you’re in the right place. Yoga for anxiety, a practice that combines physical movement, breath control, and meditation, has been proven effective in reducing anxiety and promoting overall well-being.
In this blog, we will explore how Yoga alleviates anxiety, discover the best poses specifically targeted toward reducing anxiety symptoms, and discover the numerous benefits of incorporating Yoga into your daily routine. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced yogi looking for ways to calm your mind and find inner peace, this guide is here to support you on your journey.
So roll out your mat, take a deep breath in…and let’s explore the wonderful world of Yoga for anxiety relief!
Understanding Yoga And Its Different Types
Yoga is an ancient practice that originated in India thousands of years ago. It is a holistic approach to health and well-being, combining physical postures (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayama), meditation, and ethical principles. So, there are many different types of Yoga, each with its own focus and style. These are:
- Hatha yoga is the most widely practiced form and emphasizes physical postures to build strength and flexibility. Vinyasa yoga incorporates flowing movements synchronized with breath, creating a dynamic practice.
- Kundalini yoga focuses on awakening the dormant energy within us through specific poses, breathing techniques, and chanting.
- Yin yoga is for those seeking a more gentle practice that targets deep connective tissues by holding poses for longer periods.
- Restorative Yoga provides relaxation and rejuvenation through supported poses using props like blankets and bolsters.
- Ashtanga yoga follows a set sequence of poses performed precisely to promote strength, stamina, and flexibility.
No matter which type you choose, practicing Yoga regularly can help reduce anxiety by promoting relaxation, improving body awareness, calming the mind through focused breathing techniques, and releasing tension held in the body. So, find the style that resonates with you best – there’s something for everyone!
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a common human emotion that most of us experience very often. It’s that feeling of unease, worry, or fear that can be triggered by various factors such as stress, uncertainty, or even certain life events. While feeling anxious in certain situations is normal, persistent and excessive anxiety can harm our mental and physical well-being.
When we are anxious, our bodies go into fight-or-flight mode. It means our heart rate increases, breathing becomes rapid and shallow, and muscles tense up because these physiological changes are the body’s way of preparing for danger. However, anxiety can interfere with our daily lives and overall well-being when it becomes chronic or overwhelming.
Anxiety disorders are more than just temporary feelings of worry or fear; they are long-term conditions characterized by excessive anxiety and related symptoms. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Panic Disorder (PD), Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), and Specific Phobias are some examples of anxiety disorders.
Fortunately, various methods are available to manage and reduce anxiety levels effectively. One such method is the practice of Yoga. Yoga for mental health combines physical postures (asanas), breath control techniques (pranayama), and meditation to promote relaxation and reduce stress. But is yoga good for anxiety? Read on to get answers!
How Yoga Helps In Reducing Anxiety
Yoga is a powerful practice that goes beyond just physical exercise. It has been proven to have numerous mental and emotional benefits, including reducing anxiety. But how exactly does Yoga help in reducing anxiety? Let us explain:
- Yoga helps reduce anxiety by activating the parasympathetic nervous system – responsible for promoting calmness – which counters the effects of the sympathetic nervous system associated with the fight-or-flight response.
- In addition to calming the nervous system, Yoga helps release tension stored in the muscles through stretching exercises called asanas. These gentle movements help relax the mind and body, improving flexibility and strength.
- Yoga helps to activate the body’s relaxation response. This response counteracts the stress response that often triggers feelings of anxiety. Hence, by focusing on the breath and presence in each pose, Yoga brings a sense of calmness and tranquility.
- Moreover, Yoga promotes mindfulness, which is key to managing anxiety. People become more aware of their internal states by paying attention to bodily sensations and thoughts as they arise during practice. This increased self-awareness allows them to identify anxious thoughts or patterns and better respond to them.
Additionally, practicing yoga releases tension from both the body and mind. The gentle stretches and poses help release physical tension stored in muscles while calming racing thoughts or worries. You can also go through our blog on how to reduce stress for further help.
So, can Yoga reduce anxiety? Yes, by regularly practicing Yoga, one can experience many benefits for anxiety management. Incorporating regular yoga sessions into your routine can have long-term effects on anxiety management by fostering resilience against stressors. So shall we start now with the best poses for Yoga for anxiety? Yes, let’s begin!
Yoga For Anxiety: Best Yoga Poses To Relieve Stress And Anxiety
Incorporating specific yoga poses into your practice can be incredibly beneficial when managing anxiety. But which type of Yoga is best for anxiety? For this, we share the best Yoga for anxiety to calm the mind, release body tension, and promote inner peace. So, below are some of the best yoga asanas for anxiety:
1. Child Pose (Balasana)
Child’s pose is a common and relaxing yoga pose that can help you calm your mind and body and stretch your back, hips, thighs, neck, and ankles. This lowers anxiety and stress levels by controlling blood pressure and heart rate.
Steps To Follow:
- Start on your knees and hands on a yoga mat. Bring your toes closer to the touch and spread your knees as wide as comfortable.
- Exhale while lowering your hips towards your heels, resting your buttocks on your legs or ankles.
- Then, extend your arms forward on the floor with your palms facing down, or bring them alongside your body with your palms facing up.
- Rest your forehead on the floor, a block, or a cushion. You can also make a fist with one hand and place it under your forehead, then rest the other hand on top of it.
- Relax your shoulders, jaw, and eyes. Hold for several breaths or as long as feels comfortable.
- Inhale deeply and slowly into your belly and back.
Also, please read our blog on Yoga poses for back pain to get relief from back pain naturally.
2. Standing Forward Bend Pose (Uttanasana)
This pose stretches the hamstrings, calves, hips, and lower back, relieving tension and stiffness. It also calms the nervous system and the mind by bringing fresh blood and oxygen to the head.
Steps To Follow:
- Firstly, stand with arms by your sides and your feet hip-width apart. Inhale and raise your arms overhead, palms facing each other. Exhale and fold forward from your hips, bringing your hands to the floor or your shins.
- Relax your head and neck, letting them hang loosely. You can also hold opposite elbows with your hands and sway gently from side to side.
- Then, breathe deeply and hold this pose for up to 1 minute.
- To come out of the pose, inhale and lift your chest halfway up, exhale, and bring your hands to your hips. Inhale and rise to stand with a flat back.
3. Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose is a restorative posture that helps increase blood circulation and relaxes the nervous system, reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation. It also relieves tired legs and feet and reduces swelling in the ankles.
Steps To Follow:
- Find a wall or a door with enough space to lie next to it.
- Then, sit on the floor with one side of your body touching the wall or door.
- Slowly lower yourself onto your back and swing your legs onto the wall or door, keeping them straight or slightly bent if that feels more comfortable.
- Adjust yourself so you are as close to the wall or door as possible without feeling any strain on your lower back or hamstrings.
- Then, place your arms by your sides or over your head, whichever feels more relaxing.
- Close your eyes and breathe deeply, holding this pose for up to 15 minutes.
If you are suffering from blood pressure issues, read our blog on Yoga for high BP to control blood pressure quickly.
4. Seated Forward Bend Pose (Paschimottanasana)
This pose stretches the hamstrings, calves, lower back, and spine, relieving tension and stiffness. It also calms the mind and the nervous system by bringing fresh blood and oxygen to the head.
Steps To Follow:
- Sit on the mat, extending your legs in front of you. Point your toes towards the ceiling and press your heels away from your body. Inhale deeply as you lift your arms overhead, ensuring your palms are facing each other. With a slow exhale, gently fold forward from your hips, allowing your upper body to lean forward.
- Lengthen your spine rather than round your back and gradually walk your hands as far forward as your back and hamstrings allow, holding your ankles, shins, or feet. You can also use a strap around your feet if you can’t reach them.
- Relax your head and neck, letting them hang loosely. You can also rest your forehead on a block or a cushion if it doesn’t reach the floor or your legs.
- Then, breathe deeply and hold this pose for up to 3 minutes.
- To come out of the pose, inhale and lift your chest halfway up, exhale, and bring your hands to your hips. Then, inhale and rise to sit with a flat back.
5. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)
This pose is a gentle backbend that opens up the chest, shoulders, and throat, which can improve breathing and reduce anxiety. It also strengthens the back, glutes, and hamstrings and stimulates the thyroid gland. This pose alleviates anxiety and improves overall mood by increasing blood flow to the brain. To calm your overactive thyroid, check Yoga for hypothyroidism.
Steps To Follow:
- Firstly, lie on your back, bend your knees with feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.
- Then, press your feet into the floor, lifting your hips toward the ceiling, keeping your thighs parallel.
- Interlace your fingers under your hips and press your arms into the floor to lift your chest higher.
- Then, tuck your chin slightly toward your chest and lengthen the back of your neck.
- Breathe deeply and hold this pose for up to 1 minute.
6. Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
This restorative pose opens the hips, groin, and chest and relaxes the nervous system. It can also help relieve menstrual cramps, PMS, and menopause symptoms. This pose promotes relaxation and a sense of inner calm. Females dealing with menopause should start doing Yoga regularly and also follow a proper diet for menopause for improved results.
Steps To Follow:
- Lie down on your back, bend your knees, and bring the soles of your feet together as close to your pelvis as possible. Let your knees fall open to the sides, forming a diamond shape with your legs.
- Then, place your arms alongside your body, ensuring your palms face up, and close your eyes. Adjust your position so that you feel comfortable and supported.
- Also, let go of any tension or tightness in your body. Feel your body becoming heavy and sinking into the floor.
- Breathe deeply, relax, and stay in this pose for as long as you like, from 5 to 20 minutes or more.
7. Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana)
Cat-Cow Pose is a gentle flowing movement that helps release tension in the spine and promotes mindful movement with breath, reducing anxiety and stress. It also improves posture, balance, and coordination. It can be used as a warm-up sequence or a relaxation sequence.
Steps To Follow:
- Begin by assuming a tabletop position, aligning your hands directly beneath your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips. Then, extend your fingertips forward, pointing them towards the top edge of your mat.
- Maintain a hip-width distance between your shins and knees. Keep your head centered in a neutral position and let your gaze soften, directing it downwards.
- Start with Cow Pose: Take a deep inhale, allowing your belly to descend towards the mat. Lift your chin and chest upward, directing your gaze towards the ceiling. Broaden your shoulder blades and gently draw your shoulders away from your ears, creating a sense of openness in the upper body.
- Then, move into Cat Pose: As you exhale, draw your belly to your spine and round your back toward the ceiling. The pose should look like a cat stretching its back. Release the crown of your head toward the floor, but don’t force your chin to your chest.
- Inhale, coming back into Cow Pose, and then exhale as you return to Cat Pose.
- Repeat this sequence as often as you like, moving with your breath.
- Return to a neutral spine and sit back on your heels with your torso upright to leave the pose.
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8. Extended Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana)
The extended Triangle Pose stretches the entire body, promoting balance and stability while relieving anxiety and tension. This pose stretches the legs, hips, chest, and shoulders and strengthens the core. It also helps to balance the nervous system and calm the mind.
Steps To Follow
- Stand with your feet approx.. 3 to 4 feet apart, with your right foot extending forward and your left foot at a 45-degree angle.
- Then, extend your arms outwards to the sides at shoulder level, palms facing down.
- Reach your right hand toward your right foot, keeping your torso aligned with your right leg.
- Place your right hand on your shin, ankle, or the floor, and lift your left arm toward the ceiling, forming a straight line with your right arm.
- Turn your head to look at your left hand, or keep it neutral if that feels better for your neck.
- Breathe deeply and hold this pose for up to 1 minute.
- Repeat on the other side.
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9. Fish Pose (Matsyasana)
This pose opens the chest, throat, and heart, improving breathing and reducing anxiety. It also stretches the back, neck, and shoulders and stimulates the thyroid gland. This pose can help reduce anxiety and promote a sense of relaxation. Fish Pose opens up the chest and stretches the front of the body, which can counteract the effects of tension and anxiety held in the upper body.
Steps To Follow:
- Begin by lying flat on your back with your legs extended, arms resting alongside your body, palms facing down.
- Then, slide your hands, palms down, beneath your buttocks, with your palms down and forearms resting on the floor.
- Pressing your forearms and elbows firmly into the ground, gently lift your chest and upper back off the floor. Arch your back and allow your head to drop back, resting the crown of your head on the floor.
- Keep your legs engaged and your thighs pressing into the floor. You can extend your legs or bend your knees flat on the ground for additional support.
- Relax your neck and allow your throat to open, taking deep breaths as you hold the pose. Depending on your comfort level, you can stay in Fish Pose for several breaths or up to a minute.
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10. Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Corpse Pose is ultimately a relaxing and restorative pose that allows for complete surrender and deep relaxation, helping to calm the mind and release anxiety. This pose is often used at the end of a yoga session to allow the mind and body to rest and integrate the benefits of the practice. It is also a great pose to practice anytime you need to calm down and release stress.
Steps To Follow:
- Lie down on a mat with your legs a little apart and your arms relaxed by your sides, palms facing up.
- Close your eyes and relax your face, jaw, and eyes. Let go of any tension or tightness in your body. Feel your body becoming heavy and sinking into the floor.
- Then, breathe deeply and slowly, and observe it as it flows in and out.
- Bring awareness to each body part, starting from your toes and moving up to your head. As you scan your body, mentally say “relax” to each part and feel it release any tension or stress.
- Once you have relaxed your whole body, bring your attention to the space between your eyebrows, the third eye. Imagine a soft light shining there, filling you with peace and clarity.
- Stay in this pose for as long as you like, from 5 to 20 minutes or more. Stay present and aware without falling asleep or letting your mind wander, allowing yourself to relax and unwind.
So here we have shared some of the best yoga poses for anxiety relief. If you are not confident doing them yourself, we suggest you practice them with a yoga instructor’s assistance to get better results.
Benefits Of Doing Yoga For Anxiety
Yoga is a physical practice and a powerful tool for the mind. Regarding anxiety, stress, or panic attacks, Yoga can be incredibly beneficial in helping reduce stress and promote relaxation. Here are some key benefits of incorporating Yoga into your anxiety-relieving routine.
1. Yoga Reduces Stress
Yoga promotes relaxation and stress reduction through deep breathing, gentle movements, and mindfulness. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps calm the body and mind, reducing anxiety symptoms.
2. Improves Mind-Body Connection
Yoga encourages the cultivation of a strong mind-body connection. Focusing on the breath and being present in practice can help shift attention away from anxious thoughts and create a sense of grounding and centeredness.
3. Physical Tension Release
Yoga postures release physical tension in the body, particularly in areas like the neck, shoulders, and hips, where stress accumulates. Releasing this tension can help alleviate the physical manifestations of anxiety.
4. Increased Self-Awareness
Yoga promotes self-awareness and introspection, making individuals more attuned to their thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations. This heightened self-awareness can lead to better recognition and management of anxiety triggers.
5. Improves Breathing
Yoga incorporates deep, diaphragmatic breathing techniques, activating the body’s relaxation response and reducing anxiety’s physiological symptoms. Conscious breathing can help regulate emotions, induce calmness, and enhance well-being.
6. Enhanced Relaxation Response
Regular Yoga can help recondition the body’s stress response, making it more resilient to anxiety. It trains the body to activate the relaxation response more efficiently, improving stress management.
7. Yoga For Anxiety Enhances Sleep Quality
Additionally, regular yoga practice can improve sleep quality. Anxiety often disrupts sleep patterns, leading to fatigue and exacerbating symptoms. Yoga promotes deep relaxation and can help regulate sleep cycles. Also, check our blog on Insomnia treatment if you are dealing with irregular sleep patterns.
It’s important to note that while Yoga can be a helpful tool in managing anxiety, it is not a substitute for professional treatment. Individuals with severe anxiety or specific mental health conditions should consult with a healthcare professional for a comprehensive treatment plan.
Tips To Consider While Doing Yoga For Anxiety
We are sharing some important tips for you to consider for your yoga sessions. These tips will help you to understand the process in a better way.
- Start with deep breathing before your yoga practice to focus on your breath.
- Choose a comfortable space where you can practice Yoga without any distractions.
- Listen to your body during each pose. If something feels wrong or causes pain, modify the pose or skip it altogether.
- Practice regularly to reap the benefits of Yoga for anxiety. Aim for at least three times a week, but even short daily sessions can make a difference.
- Incorporate meditation with your yoga practice by ending each session with a few minutes of stillness and mindfulness. This helps calm the mind and promote relaxation.
- Use props like blocks, straps, or bolsters to support yourself in certain poses.
- Establish an intention before starting each yoga session –focusing on releasing the tension, finding inner peace, Yoga for concentration, or cultivating self-compassion – this will give purpose and direction to your practice.
- Take breaks when needed during your yoga practice, and honor what you need at that moment.
- Be patient, and don’t get discouraged if you cannot do certain poses immediately, as it takes time.
- Seek guidance when necessary by working with a certified yoga instructor who can offer personalized guidance and modifications.
Also, it’s essential beginning with gentle poses that help calm the mind and relax the body. You don’t need to push yourself too hard; Yoga is about finding balance and listening to your body. If a pose feels uncomfortable or causes pain, back off and modify it accordingly.
A Quick Recap To Yoga For Anxiety And Stress Relief
Yoga is a powerful practice that can be immensely beneficial for reducing anxiety. Combining physical movement, breath control, and mindfulness, Yoga helps soothe the mind and relax the body. Incorporating specific poses into your yoga routine can further enhance its anxiety-reducing effects.
Some of the best poses for anxiety include Child’s Pose (Balasana), Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana), Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani), and Corpse Pose (Savasana). These poses help release tension, promote deep relaxation, and restore balance in both body and mind.
In addition to easing anxiety symptoms, regular Yoga offers numerous other benefits, such as improved flexibility, strength, posture, and overall well-being. It also enhances self-awareness and promotes a positive mindset. To manage your body weight, you can check Yoga for weight loss. Remember that everyone’s journey with anxiety is unique — what works for one person may not work for another. It’s important to consult with healthcare professionals if you have severe or persistent anxiety symptoms.
By performing these recommended yoga poses in your routine while maintaining a mindful approach, you can harness the power of this ancient practice to manage and reduce anxiety symptoms effectively. So roll out your mat—and find the peace within you!
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Frequently Asked Questions
Is Yoga Good For Anxiety?
Yes, Yoga is beneficial for anxiety. It promotes relaxation, reduces stress, and helps calm the mind. Through deep breathing and mindful movement, Yoga activates the body’s relaxation response, alleviating anxiety symptoms. Regular practice can enhance self-awareness, cultivate a sense of grounding, and provide tools for managing anxiety in daily life.
Which Type Of Yoga Is Best For Anxiety?
When choosing a type of Yoga for anxiety, gentle and restorative styles are often recommended. Hatha, Yin, and Restorative Yoga can help calm the nervous system, release tension, and promote relaxation. These styles focus on slow movements, deep breathing, and longer holds, allowing for tranquility and stress relief.
How Do I Start Yoga For Anxiety Control?
To start using Yoga for anxiety control, follow these steps:
- Find a quiet space and start with beginner-friendly yoga classes or online tutorials for anxiety.
- Prioritize deep, mindful breathing to calm your nervous system.
- Include relaxation-focused poses like Child’s Pose, Legs-Up-The-Wall, and Corpse Pose.
- Aim for regular practice for cumulative anxiety management benefits, even if it’s just a few minutes each day.
Can I Practice Yoga For Anxiety If I’m A Beginner?
Absolutely! Yoga is suitable for practitioners of all levels, including beginners. Many yoga classes offer modifications and variations to accommodate different abilities. Consider starting with gentle or beginner-friendly classes focusing on relaxation and stress relief. As you progress, you can gradually explore more challenging poses. Remember, Yoga is a personal journey, so practice at your own pace and honor your body’s limits.
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