Postures for Anxiety

You can experience anxiety in many different ways. You may feel dizzy, nauseous, a pressure on your chest, hot and cold flushes, or simply just frightened. There are multiple symptoms that may hint towards an anxiety attack or disorder. Especially in these situations, you may lose the connection to your breath and overall the connection between your own body and the mind.

Once I started to see the mental benefits out of my personal yoga practice, I began to counter the feelings of anxiety with yoga postures or breathing exercises. Sometimes only closing the eyes and taking a few deep breaths helps immensely. Shifting the focus of your everyday life to solely your own breath can calm and cool you down, letting the outside world seem blurry just for this moment until you return to a neutral behavior. I created this list of yoga postures and breathing exercises that are easy to do at home and can have a great positive effect towards your anxiety when practiced.

Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana) or Big Toe Pose (Padangusthasana)

When your head is positioned underneath your heart, your brain is getting a fresh dose of oxygen to cool you down. At the same time, your spine is creating space between each vertebra in a forward fold, which increases the circulation to many nerves in your body. Additionally, your digestion organs are being stimulated in a forward fold, which helps to stimulate your metabolism and releases tension in this area. 

Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)

With your legs up the wall, any excess fluid build-up in your legs is released and your blood is flowing from your legs towards the heart. Your heart rate slows down in this pose and you may feel tension released in your lower body. In this pose, your body feels safe and supported that may help to find a mental peaceful state and relaxation in your entire physical body. 

Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana) or Reclined Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)

This pose is a great way to just let your hips be opened by gravity. You will feel the tension being released in your hip area immediately. In this pose, you open up your two lower energy centers, your sacral and root chakra. Our sacral chakra is the center of our emotional needs and sensual drives, whereas our root chakra connects us to the earth and grounds us. By opening up these two chakras, we get back in touch with these values and this does not only stimulate us mentally but also physically. This pose can either be practiced with your spine upright and in a meditative pose or reclined on a bolster or pillows to increase the connection to the earth.

Balasana (Child's Pose)

This posture is extremely powerful when experiencing anxiety. In this fetal posture, you are able to relax your entire body and experience mental and emotional feelings towards yourself as a being. Especially together with a calm breath, you can release any pain in your neck and back area. You may feel more centered and grounded in this pose, and your mind can calm down. 

Breathing Exercise #1

Take deep breaths in and out as you close your eyes. You may do this lying down or sitting against a wall, or maybe in a meditative seat. Relax your arms just in your lap or next to you, or you may form a cup with them and place it around your mouth area, so you breathe right into it. This kind of rebreathing can neutralize your pH balance in your body, by increasing the amount of CO2 flowing into your body. 

Breathing Exercise #2

After an inhalation, take a few seconds to hold your breath and then release. Try to keep your inhalations and exhalations in the same length, while holding your breath for between 4 to 6 seconds. You can exhale as well throughout your mouth and not only your nose. When your breath is still, your mind is still as well. Holding your breath can decrease the feeling of stress in your mind and slowly calm you down.

Breathing Exercise #3

Alternate nostril breathing can help you find balance by equally breathing through both sides of your nose. For this exercise, place your right thumb on your right nostril and your right ring finger on the left nostril. Close the left nostril when inhaling through the right nostril and then close both, while you hold your breath. Exhale through the left nostril and then repeat this round by going back the same way. Your left hand in the meantime can rest on your knee or next to your body. Repeat a few rounds with this breathing technique and then return to a normal breath. You may feel the equal distribution now of air which may give you a feeling of relaxation and relief.

Below this article, you will find two videos on YouTube that show some additional breathing techniques and yoga postures, designed for dealing with anxiety and stress.