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Because anxiety is a future-orientated state of mind its a good idea to try and get grounded in the present moment. The physical practice of yoga can help you to do this by focusing attention on the body and breath.
“Anxiety is a lot like a toddler. It never stops talking, tells you you’re wrong about everything, and wakes you up at 3 am.”
- Toni Hammer
When we live life in a constant state of anxiety, tension builds up in the body and over time can lead to physical pain. The practice of yoga works two-fold when it comes to dealing with anxiety. It stops the thinking mind in its tracks, whilst also releasing physical tension. When practised over time yoga can become a great management tool for those who suffer.
Here are my top 5 postures that should help:
Yes, it is a simple as it sounds. When anxiety or stress begins to arise you can find the nearest wall and get yourself into this position.
Put your mat against the wall and place your bottom as close to the wall as possible. Relax your arms by your side with your palms facing up. You can close off your eyes and bring attention to your breath. Elevating your legs above your heart allows the heart rate to slow down. If you want to connect more deeply with your breath place one hand on your chest and one on your tummy. Stay here as long as you like.
There's nothing quite like a balancing posture to help focus and quieten the mind. Raise your left leg to 90 degrees and place your right hand on the floor to balance, you can use a block if you can’t quite reach the floor. One you feel sturdy enough try to slowly lift your gaze upwards towards your left hand. Try to stay here for 10 breaths and then repeat on the other side.
Yoga inversions are postures that require part of your body to go upside down, and shoulder stand is one of them. For many people, the thought of inversions can trigger a fear or anxiety response but the benefits of the posture are quite the opposite. Anxiety is more of a perception of danger, so when you can do something physical and breathe deeply, you're sending a powerful signal to your own body that you’re in control. It helps you break out of negative thought patterns by putting you in a completely different position from normal life.
If you’re new to this then I recommend getting a thick blanket or two and fold them the place underneath the back of your shoulders. Centre yourself over the blanket whilst lying down, get yourself in the right position first with your neck just over the top of the blanket. *Important to note here not to look around, especially as you begin to lift your legs, gently tuck your chin towards your chest.*
To get up into it, place your hands beside your hips on the floor. Bend your knees and place the soles of your feet on the floor. Take your hands to your back and come into the pose one leg at a time (you can use a wall to help you with this in the beginning if our struggling to get your legs up.) When both of your legs are up, move your hands to your back to maintain the lift of your ribcage. When both of your legs are up, extend them towards the ceiling and try to straighten your knees. Come out very slowly, the same way you came into the posture one leg at a time and supporting your back with your hands.
A basic standing balancing pose to help calm a busy mind. Such balancing postures encourage you to concentrate and be in the present moment, if your mind wanders you’ll soon know as you’ll fall out!
Begin by standing tall with your feet together. Take a moment to root your feet down into the floor and think about distributing your weight equally across both feet. Begin to shift your weight across to your left foot lifting your right foot off the floor. Keep your standing leg as straight as possible without locking the knee. Bend your right knee and bring the sole of your right foot onto your inner left thigh. Create pressure between the sole of your foot and the inner thigh to improve stability. Focus your gaze on one point ahead of you to help with the balance, if your eyes are moving around, your body will be moving too. Take 5-10 breaths and then repeat on the other side.
If you suffer from anxiety, it’s a good idea to do this posture last. As tempting as it may be just to simply lie down, the mind will be racing so go through the last 4 postures and look forward to this one.
Lie down on your mat with your arms down by your side, palms facing up. If you feel any discomfort or tension in your lower back you can place a folded blanket or pillow under your knees. It’s important you feel comfortable in this one. Close your eyes and focus on releasing any tension in your face. Perhaps yawn a couple of times, relax your tongue away from the roof of your mouth. Focus your attention on your breath, if your mind wanders, don’t judge it, gently bring your attention back to the breath. Stay here as long as you need. Relax.
After this sequence, you should feel calm, quiet and rested, as if all the systems of your body have been awakened and are now able to let go and rest completely. Drink some water, or a nice warming tea, and be proud of yourself for prioritising your health and wellness and continue on with your day!
Lisa is a contributing writer for Truth Naturals. Her experience originating from being a certified holistic health coach, blogger and yoga teacher for 10 years. Lisa is extremely passionate about health and wellness, natural remedies and plant-based nutrition. You can find her on Instagram at @livesimplylisa