Sometimes, it’s hard not to let a crappy day spill into our evening. But shake it off, dear reader. Instead of allowing anxiety to creep in, take five and practice some yoga asanas to boost your mental well-being. Yoga not only effectively releases stress, but the gentle poses also ease anxiety symptoms while releasing physical tension.
There was a time when most of us in our 30s would feel the toll of balancing personal and professional lives. However, with our lifestyles taking a drastic turn (for the worse, in my opinion), even those in their ‘carefree’ 20s suffer from bouts of anxiety, often manifesting in physical and mental health issues.
When you are anxious, it can feel like your breath is uneven, like your world is closing in on you. Yoga can help increase natural anti-anxiety neurochemicals. According to a study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, yoga increases GABA (a calming chemical), unlike classic cardio, which helps elevate endorphins.
Deep breathing is an incredible hack to calm your mind instantly. Also, performing these restorative asanas can quell your anxiety and restore your mental fortitude. So, get to a calm space, close your eyes, and practice these grounding yoga poses.
Table of Contents
Restorative yoga poses to combat anxiety
Bharamri pranayama, or humming bee breath
The humming bee breath can create a soothing effect on the mind and nervous system. This relieves stress and helps alleviate anger, anxiety and insomnia, thus increasing the body’s healing capacity.
- Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and relax your entire body. Keep your lips gently closed with your teeth slightly open.
- Then raise your arms sideways and bend the elbows.
- Bring your hands to the ears and use the index or middle finger to press the flaps of the ears.
- Shift your awareness to the centre of the head and keep the body still.
- Next, inhale and exhale slowly, in a controlled manner, while making a deep, humming sound like a bee.
Nadi sodhan pranayama
Nadi sodhan is one of the best techniques to balance the brain’s two hemispheres, leading to relaxation. This practice has a sedative, calming effect on the body, so it is best practised when you can’t sleep or focus due to anxiety or pain.
- Sit comfortably with your legs crossed.
- Take a deep breath in as you close your eyes.
- Exhale and close your right nostril with your right thumb.
- Then, inhale through your left nostril and close the left nostril with your fingers.
- Next, open the right nostril and exhale.
Badhakonasa or bound angle pose
This restorative pose can help you release anxiety while promoting a sense of calmness. Further, this pose allows for complete relaxation of your mind and body.
- Sit comfortably on your mat with your legs extended on the sides.
- As you exhale, bring the bottoms of your feet together and pull them toward your pelvis.
- Drop your knees to the sides and press your heels together as you take several deep breaths.
Sitting chair twists
Spinal twists can be one of the best ways to relax your body and mind before an important meeting. If you find your thoughts scattered, simply get into the pose and return to your intention.
- Sit upright on the chair, and turn the right arm backwards, with the left hand holding the chair’s right arm.
- Then, slowly turn the torso to the right to release muscle stress.
- Repeat the steps on the other side.
Paschimottanasana or seated forward bend pose
This classic pose can help you focus inward, quieting racing thoughts. This calming pose can also help soothe your nervous system.
- Sit with your spine erect and your legs stretched out.
- Then, breathing in, stretch both arms above your head.
- As you exhale, bend forward from the hip joints while keeping your spine erect.
- Stretch as much as you can. If you feel comfortable, hold your toes and stretch forward.
- Then, as you inhale, gently move your body back to the starting position.
- Finally, breathe out and lower your arms.
- Repeat the steps 2-3 times.
Matsyasana or fish pose
This back-bending posture is excellent for relieving tightness in your chest and back. In addition, this asana can help you find your centre when you have racing thoughts. Then, as you focus on your breath, you will find ease in the stillness of this pose.
- Lie on your back with your hands relaxed alongside the body.
- Place your hands underneath the hips with your palms facing down. Then bring the elbows closer to each other.
- Inhale, and lift the head and chest up.
- Keeping the chest elevated, lower the head backwards to touch the top of the head to the floor.
- Press the elbows firmly into the ground with your head lightly touching the floor. Place the weight on the elbow and not on the head.
- Lift your chest up.
- Hold the yoga pose for as long as you can and relax in the posture with every exhalation.
- Then lower the head and chest to the floor and bring the hands back along the sides of the body. Relax.
So, the next time you have intimidating thoughts, roll out your mat and continue practising. You will feel instantly calm.
(Hero and feature image credits: Pixabay)