Anxiety and Yoga, Poses to Settle the Mind

Yoga poses, or asanas, are a great way of improving flexibility, reducing stress and relieving anxiety. Yoga can help you feel more grounded and settled when anxious.  

The body really enjoys a good stretch and the opportunity to unwind some of its accumulated tensions and knots.  Yoga helps because:

  • alternate stretching and folding movements help increase blood flow through every organ and muscle
  • this keeps the energy moving around your body
  • which will help you metabolise all those anxiety chemicals and
  • let go of body tension, which in turn
  • will help you let go of mental and emotional tension. 

Yoga helps settle the mind

  • When you’re feeling anxious you are most likely also feeling restless and agitated with a mind like a disc on fast forward.
  • Yoga poses are a very effective way of helping the mind to settle by giving it something to focus on, helping to draw the attention inside whilst giving the body some gentle movements which reduce feelings of restlessness.  
  • It makes a great prelude to a meditation practice especially when restlessness can make it seem almost impossible to sit with eyes closed in meditation for twenty minutes or so.
  • But many people find a few yoga poses on their own, in a class or at home, enough to ease anxious feelings a little. 

Don't overdo it - choose your class carefully

  • When trying to settle anxiety problems it is best not to exercise too vigorously.  
  • Some yoga classes demand quite a high level of strength and aerobic capacity, so make sure you know what the class is going to be like before you commit.  
  • Look for a slower paced class with an emphasis on relaxation.  

You don't have to be a human pretzel

  • It is important also to remember that the goal of yoga poses is not to become a human pretzel or even to be as flexible as the person on the next yoga mat,
  • Always work without strain and only ever to go into the pose as far as your body wants to.  
  • Never push - listen to your body
  • Stop the stretch at the first hint of resistance by the body and
  • Wait for it to relax into the stretch before taking it any further.  

Practising at home

  • If you are going to practice at home, make sure the body is warmed up before you start to stretch, especially first thing in the morning or you may find you inadvertently injure yourself.  
  • There are a few ways to do this but, preferably, attend a few yoga classes before trying to practice at home and follow the warm up routine that you will be taught.
  • You don’t want to try doing very strong stretches if you have just got out of bed or been sitting at a desk for a few hours,
  • So go into the practice carefully, gently, mindfully.  

Yoga poses without awareness are just exercise

  • Always remember, true yoga is when full awareness is given to each movement.  
  • Without this awareness it is simply another form of exercise and you won’t experience the full benefit of the yoga poses.  
  • Always bring your attention back to the body whenever you notice your focus slipping away to something else.

In the Anxiety Unravelled ebook, you will find a short yoga routine that you can practise everyday. The yoga poses will help increase and maintain flexibility and encourage more settledness in the body and mind.

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