Workout has become a trend these days, but no other exercise program is as enduring as yoga. Derived from the Sanskrit term “yuji,” meaning union, yoga is a 5000-year old discipline from India that aims to harmonize the body with the mind. When your mind is continuously occupied with some sort of work, family or other pressures, it is natural that you get frustrated, exhausted, or depressed. All of these are reactions to excessive stress. Read on to find out how yoga and anxiety are related and the amazing benefits of yoga for anxiety and depression.
Yoga and anxiety are very much related to each other. Regular yoga practice puts you in a state of deep relaxation where, you focus on your breathing, turning attention away from the causes of anxiety and depression, thereby calming your mind.
Yoga poses should not be simply mistaken as stretching of the limbs. Every pore of your existence talks to you if you do them with feeling, and that is how yoga for anxiety and mental health yields the greatest result.
Types of Yoga
There are many different forms of yoga. Some are fast-paced and intense, while others are gentle and relaxing. Some of the common examples include-
- Hatha yoga
- Vinyasa yoga
- Ashtanga yoga
- Bikram yoga
- Iyengar yoga
Yoga and Anxiety
Looking for answers on the relation between yoga and anxiety? We’ve got answers for you! Yoga helps in giving the brain cells a break from constant exertion. When we perceive danger in our surroundings, the hypothalamus of the brain activates an alarm system. Adrenaline, along with the primary stress hormone (cortisol) is released to help you react appropriately in such a situation. This stress response system returns to normal once the danger has passed.
If you continue to feel under attack, then it means that the hormones are produced in an excess amount, altering the regular body functions. This leads to serious problems including anxiety, depression, headaches, heart diseases, digestive problems, sleep troubles and more.
Performing yoga give rise to the relaxation response that controls the effect of the sympathetic nervous system’s fight-or-flight process, thereby stimulating the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system or the rest-and-digest system.
Yoga for anxiety and depression helps to lower high blood pressure, controls heart palpitations (which are triggered due to adrenaline) and reduces cortisol levels, helping you deal better with stress. Yoga’s stress reducing properties helps in boosting brain power. It clears your mind and improves concentration.
Basic Yoga Tips
Now that you know how yoga and anxiety are related, have a look at these effective yoga tips.
1. Breathe well
Taking good attention to your breath can help free the mind from unnecessary clutter of thoughts that breed anxiety. It is always best to follow the given breathing practices:
- Kapal Bhati Pranayama
- Bhastrika Pranayama
- Nadi Shodhan Pranayama
- Bhramari Pranayama
2. Perform Yoga Poses/ Asanas to Relieve Your Mind
Yogic postures or asanas help in counteracting the anxiety-driven depression because it reduces stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, inducing the relaxation response.
3. Practise Meditation
Meditation is one of the excellent techniques to relax a distracted mind. Regular meditation will also help to lower the adrenaline rush.
4. Think Positive
Only a positive minded person can breed joy, peace, and relaxation. So, stay positive no matter what the situation is.
Best Yoga for Anxiety and Depression
Given below are some of the best yoga for anxiety and depression.
Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
First, lie down on your stomach, keeping your feet slightly apart, almost parallel to your hips, and then keep your arms by the side of your body. Then, fold your knees, and hold your ankles. Thirdly, Breathe in, lift your chest off the ground and pull your legs up.
While doing this, make sure that you feel the stretch on the arms and thighs. Look straight, pay attention to your breath and hold the pose for 15 seconds. After that, as you exhale, slowly bring your chest and leg to the ground, releasing your hold on the ankles. Relax.
This yoga for stress and anxiety is very easy to perform, when compared to other asanas, which require high concentration.
Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
To begin this asana, lie down on your back with your knees bent. Keep your feet planted beneath your knee. Then, place your hands underneath the hips, palms facing down. Bring the elbows closer toward each other. Breathe in while lifting your head and chest. Keep your chest elevated, lower your head backwards and touch the top of the head to the floor.
With your head lightly touching the ground, press the elbows firmly, placing the weight on the elbow. Lift your chest up. After that, press your thighs and legs to the floor. Hold on to this pose as long as you can. Make sure to take long gentle breaths. Relax.
Janu Shirsasana (One-Legged Forward Bend)
Firstly, Sit up with your legs stretched out and keep your spine straight. Then, bend your left knee and place the left foot against the right thigh, while keeping the left knee on the floor. Breathe in and raise both the arms above your head. Stretch up, twist a little to the right from the waist.
Then, breathe out and bend forward. Keep your spine straight, directing your chin to the toes. Try holding on to your big toes. Move forward as you pull your toes. Breathe in and come up. Then, breathe out and bring your arms down to the side. Repeat the process on the other side. Relax.
Janu sirsasana relaxes your mind and body on the whole and can be considered as an effective yoga for anxiety and depression.
Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)
First, lie on your back, folding your knees. Make sure to keep your feet- hip distance apart on the floor, 10-12 inches from the pelvis. Then, keep the knees and ankles in a straight line. Place your arms beside the body, palms facing down. Inhale and then slowly lift your lower back, middle back and upper back off the floor. Then, gently roll in the shoulders. Your chest should touch the chin. Without bringing your chin down, support the weight with your shoulders, arms and feet.
After that, feel your bottom firm up in this pose. Now both the thighs are parallel to each other and to the floor. If possible, try to interlace the fingers and push the hands on the floor to lift the torso a little more up. Breathe well and hold the posture for a few minutes. Exhale slowly. Relax.
Adho-Mukha Svanasana, Prasarita Padottanasana, Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana,etc are some of the other yoga for anxiety and depression.
At the end of practising yoga postures, lie down in Yoga Nidra. This gives your mind and body a few minutes of relaxation. This technique helps in flushing out body toxins- a primary cause of stress, from your system.
However, before practising the above-mentioned yoga for anxiety and depression, it is always recommended to talk to a doctor. You can also consult a doctor online.
How Does Yoga for Stress and Anxiety Help You?
Regular practice of the best poses in yoga for anxiety, stress, and depression makes you a happier person. It brings a glow on your face and calms your mind. Yoga has the absolute power to control your mind and provide you with inner peace. In today’s busy life, people never find time for themselves. They often forget to be happy. It’s high time to give yourself some precious amount of time. Practice yoga and feel the difference within yourself.
It’s always best to seek the guidance of a healthcare professional before embarking on any kind of physical exercises, especially when it comes to yoga.
Read – Yoga Asanas for Kids