Home For Teachers Yoga Poses For Anxiety

Yoga Poses For Anxiety

by Arundhati Baitmangalkar
Yoga poses are very versatile. The same pose can be applied differently for various benefits. Think of any food item, let’s take flour, for instance – we can use it for a savory pie, or for a cake. Maybe cookies or bread. There are plenty of options. Though it’s not the same context, it is kind of the same logic for yoga poses. A yoga pose can play multiple roles and be used for various benefits. Yoga poses for anxiety and insomnia are being used more often by yoga teachers to help students nowadays deal with the many stresses of modern day life.
Disclaimer: one should know these yoga poses and practice well enough to understand the intricacies of these yoga poses and their applications. Not all yoga teachers do this, but if you find yourself someone who has worked with props, you should be in fairly good hands.
Our top recommendations for yoga poses for anxiety are below. These poses double up as great yoga poses for sleep as well.

Adhomukha Virasana/Resting Hero’s pose

 

ADHOMUKHA VIRSASANA

I love the simplicity of this yoga pose. Anyone can do this, literally anywhere and at any time. The forward and inward actions of this pose are very beneficial to calm the nervous energy of the mind. The blood flows back slowly to the heart, the lungs, and the brain. This abundant flow of oxygen helps to reduce anxiety, and also helps to induce sleep.
  • Bring both big toes to touch. Keep the knees apart, slightly wider than the hips.
  • Bring the buttocks onto the heels, and press down on the heels. Use a blanket or a bolster, if you find this challenging.
  • Fold forward without lifting the hips off the heels. Place a block under the forehead allowing it to take the weight of the head.
  • Arms stretched out to the front, shoulder width apart.
  • Let the exhalations become longer than the inhalations.
  • Hold the pose for 1 or 2 minutes. No upper limit. The longer the better.

Adhomukha Swanasana/Downward Facing Dog Pose with Head Support

ADHOMUKHA SWANASANA

We are increasing the angle of the head to hips ratio in this pose so the blood flow is increased to the heart and lungs. Again, this pose turns you inward and helps to counter anxiety. Place a block under the forehead, and let the head rest comfortably on the block. Keep all the facial muscles relaxed while the rest of the body holds adhomukha swanasana.
  • Start on all fours. Lift the knees off the floor and draw the hips up and back.
  • Keep all the limbs shoulder distance apart. Drop the head onto the block.
  • Keep the spine long. Arms and legs straight as well.
  • Let the breath be slow with longer exhalations.
  • Hold for about 30 seconds or a little longer with no strain. Then rest in adhomukha virasana and repeat twice.

Prasarita Padottanasana/ Standing Wide Leg Forward Fold

PRASARITA PADOTTANASANA

PRASARITA PADOTTANASANA

In this pose, the hips are directly over the ankles. This makes it a semi-inversion. We are starting to reverse normal patterns here. One cannot continue to be lost in anxious thoughts while inverting. Here, the person is forced to return to the present moment even if it brief, helping to get rid of anxiety. Also, inverted poses help to correct breathing patterns – it’s true gem. The moment we fix the breath, anxiety disappears. The breath becomes a deep anchor for anyone who has anxiety. Remember how we are told to take a deep breath when things get stressful? It is because the breath can counter the anxiety of the mind.

  • Stand with your feet about 3.5 to 4 feet apart. Keep the legs active.
  • Fold forward at the hip and keep the spine long without rounding the back
  • Place the forehead on the block, and let the legs hold the weight of the body. Arms supporting the body lightly.
  • Do not press the weight into the head.
  • Hold with longer exhalations for a minute or more, and then slowly move out of the pose. Repeat adhomukha virasana again.

Supta Baddhakonasana- Supine Bound Angle Pose. 

 

SUPTA BADDHAKONASANA

This pose is one of the best poses for anxiety. The spine and back of the heart rest on the bolster, and the organs are at ease. The chest is open wide, facilitating better breathing. The whole body is supported in this pose, almost as if someone is taking away all of our worries. We tend to hold a lot of tension in our hip join, and baddhakonasana is one of the best poses to bring a sense of freedom into the hips. The whole body feels like it is letting go of all the excess anxiety and nervous energy. The breath slows down and corrects itself. When the eyes are closed, we remove unnecessary distractions and the focus is drawn inward, helping us to connect even deeper with the breath.

Brahmahari/Humming Bee Pranayama. 

BRAHMAHARI

This is a pranayama (breath related) practice. The sound of the humming bee is done on the exhalation. The long exhalation breath along with the vibrations of the ‘mmmm’ sound are very soothing. This is a great practice for anxiety as well as insomnia. Plug the ears with the index fingers to intensify the sound vibrations in the head.
  • Sit comfortably with a straight spine and open chest.
  • Inhale, close the ears with the index fingers.
  • On the exhale, make the humming ‘mmmmmmmmm’ sound for the duration of the out breath.
  • Take a recovery breath, and do 7 more rounds.
  • Release the hands and rest in shavasana.

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