If you have ever experienced anxiety – you will know first hand how debilitating it can be and just how helpless it can make you feel. Physically, anxiety can be felt as nausea, dizziness, trembling, muscular tension, back ache or a tight feeling in the chest.
The practice of yoga can be a natural therapy to help alleviate feelings and symptoms of anxiety.
With regular practice, yoga can help calm a restless mind by redirecting your attention inwards and detaching the mind from the worries that are consuming you.
The following 3 yoga poses can help to calm the nervous system, reduce the respiratory rate, and calm a stressed body and anxious mind.
UTTANASANA – Intense Forward Stretch
This is both a calming and recuperative pose which rests and energises. The pose increases blood flow to the brain, soothing the sympathetic nervous system. It can help to relieve migraines and stress related headaches. This pose when practiced
regularly can also help to reduce depression.
Standing with the feet together, inhale and raise the arms over head as you lengthen through the torso and back. Exhale and fold forward bringing your hands beside the feet. Allow the head to feel heavy towards the ground. As you inhale, feel the spine lengthening. Ground through the feet and lengthen and lift through the back of the legs. As you exhale, allow the back of the legs to soften and open and the shoulders to relax.
Hold this pose for 5 – 10 breaths.
Gently draw up on an inhalation.
Helpful hint – If you can’t quite reach the floor, consider using blocks to rest your hands and head on.
ARDHA CHANDRASANA – Half Moon Pose
This pose increases vitality and strength in the body which is essential during times of stress.
Physically the pose tones the abdominal organs and stimulates digestion. It can alleviate back pain and reduce stiffness in the neck, shoulders and knees. Improves balance, coordination and calms the mind.
Turn your right foot out to the right, bend the knee and place the right hand out in front of the foot onto the ground or onto a block. Raise your left hand up.
Start to straighten your right leg and raise your left leg. When you feel steady start to gaze up to the right hand.
Hold this pose for 5-10 breaths.
BALASANA – Childs Pose
Childs pose relieves tension in the lower back and shoulders, stretches and tones the spine. It is calming and soothing to the nervous system.
Take the knees to mat width apart, tops of the feet on the mat with the toes pointing behind you.
You may like to place a blanket under the knees for extra cushioning and to minimise any bone to mat discomfort.
Place a bolster between the legs. Inhale to lift and lengthen through the spine and as you exhale draw the chest forward as you come to rest down on the bolster.
You can turn your head to one side (but remember to turn it the other way halfway through the pose to bring balance to the neck).
Allow the bolster to take the full weight of the body here using each exhale to feel heavier and heavier on the bolster.
Hold this pose for 2-3 minutes.
Slowly and gently draw yourself back up to a seat when you are ready.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Lauren Flaherty is a Sydney based yoga teacher that is passionate about sharing the practice, philosophy and art of yoga. With a focus on mindfulness and developing awareness, Lauren teaches Hatha Vinyasa, Yin and restorative yoga with the belief that the practice has the power to transform not only your body and your mind, but your life too. Lauren’s own practice and teaching continues to be influenced and inspired by her own Ashtanga and Yin practice and by her two greatest teachers – her children, Jackson and Isla. You can connect with Lauren via www.laurenflahertyyoga.com