When you’re stressed or anxious it’s hard to do much of anything and sometimes hard to do nothing at all. Depends on which end of the spectrum you lie and your preferred coping mechanism.
The idea of actually calming your anxiety, may not be the first thing you think of. I know for me, I have the hardest time thinking of anything other than the way I feel, and how I don’t want to feel that way.
Whether you’re feeling stressed or anxious, doing some yoga can be a big help and bring some much needed relief.
I know, I know… It’ll be hard to get up and actually do it. But trust me, just get yourself to the mat, floor, ground, wherever you have to practice. Just a simple 10-15 minutes can even make a difference. Focusing on doing a quick or even better, a long practice or any sort of movement can really help get you outside of your head. Here are a few yoga poses for anxiety.
Forward Fold (standing)
When you’re anxious, I think any inversion is great. According Yoga for Depression, any inversion like forward fold are great for improving your mood. I don’t need articles or Doctors to tell me that. I’ve experienced the relief for myself in my practice. Forward Fold is one of my go-to poses when feeling anxious or stressed. Or just shitty in general. Take a few deep breaths while you hang forward, you won’t regret it.
Savasana is great! And I don’t mean just laying in your bed. I think it’s great to do a quick 10-15 minute flow and then relax in Savasana. Bring your favorite blanket, a washcloth or small towel to cover your eyes (or eye sleeping mask if you got it), and even a pillow if you want! Set up a comfy space to just fully relax. The quick little workout will hopefully get you out of your head for a bit, then when in Savasana try to focus on your breathing and a few deep breaths. Stay here as long as you need, get back up hopefully feeling a bit less anxious and much more relaxed.
Did you know when we are anxious and stress we tend to hold that stress in different areas of the body? One place being the hips! One of the reasons this is one of my favorite areas to stretch. Get into the pose by coming on your hands and knees. Gently walking the knees out as wide as you can comfortably go. You can bring the forearms to a block or the ground and just relax into the pose. You might find the longer you hold the lower you will get and the more you release into it.
Child’s pose w/reverse prayer
This is a great pose to just melt into, I find it very calming. It gives me a nice stretch in my shoulders and upper arms. From your hands and knees, bring the butt to the heals relaxing the upper body down towards the mat/floor. Hands are extended straight out in front of you on the mat. Next, bring the hands together into “prayer” hands, bending the arms keeping the elbows on the mat and the hands lifting up toward the sky. The hands can rest over the top of the head or you can keep them up.
Happy Baby is one of my overall favorite poses. I love how it feels for my back, it’s like a nice little massage for my back muscles. For this one, lying on your back bring your feet to your hands, pulling the feet down, bending/bringing the knees towards the armpits as much as you can. You can hold on to your big toes or the outside of your feet. Once in position, you can gently roll side to side to get a nice massage on either side of your spine.
Chair pose is great for building heat in the legs. At one point it was one of my least favorite poses to do because I found it so challenging to hold. That’s one of the reasons I think it’s great for anxiety, it gives you a physical challenge to focus on which can help you get outside of your head for a bit.
Wheel pose is another that I thought would be a nice challenge. When your supporting yourself upside down on your hands, it’s hard to remember what’s causing you to feel anxious. Not to mention it increases energy and counteracts depression, according to yogajournal.com. I have a lot hate relationship with this pose, and you definitely want to be warmed up to go into this pose.
To get into this pose you can start laying on your back. Feet come to the floor, knees bent-Bring the finger tips to touch the back of the heels. This helps place the feet in the correct position. Next bring the palms of the hands down on either side of the head, finger tips pointing towards the feet. Once the palms are on the ground, push into the ground with the feet and hands while lifting the hips. The arms straighten as much as possible. If you have any back issues or an injury, you will probably want to skip this one.
Flowing with cat and cow pose is one of my favorite ways to warm up and energize my body! I literally feel like I’m flowing out the stress and anxiousness. You can start on all fours (hands and knees) with a neutral spine. For cow, you drop the belly and lift the gaze feeling a nice stretching in the back and the front of the body as well. To go into cat, it’s just the opposite. You lift/round the back while you push the floor away. Flowing back and forth between the two feels fantastic.
Oscillating Cobra is probably one of my newest most favorite ways to begin my practice. It feels great on my shoulders and upper back, it’s good for those of us who may work at a desk all day. For this pose, you start in a cobra- lay on your belly placing the hands on the ground in line with the shoulders, gently lift the upper body making sure the hips stay in place on the ground.
Now that you’re in cobra, here comes the fun part, the oscillating. Simply put, you are just flowing from your chest on the ground up into cobra with the hands a bit wider than they would be in normal cobra. Flowing up into cobra, back down to the chest, and repeat. I tend to feel like it’s more of a wave in the upper back.
Legs up the Wall
This one is pretty self explanatory. Scooch your booty up against the floor, while lying on the ground, the legs come up against the wall. I like to bring one hand to my belly and one hand to my chest to ground me even more, plus I find it very soothing-great for when you feel like a big ol’ ball of anxiousness.
And that pretty much wraps it up for these 10 poses. Just get moving and out of your head 🙂
Some other tips I might add are BREATHE, take several deep breaths while doing any other these poses and that alone can make you/things seem less heavy. Also, like I just mentioned placing the hands on the belly and the chest while laying down feels so calming. A weighted blanked, eye mask or wash cloth to to help relax the face and eyes.
You got this boo! If you’re feeling anxious, know you’re not alone and it will pass.
New to the blog or yoga? Check out these other posts!
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How to Motivate Yourself to Workout Consistently
5 Reasons to Start Practicing Yoga
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