So, you are under stress! Or possibly circumstances in life are such that there’s cause for anxiety. Let’s learn to deal with it.
Stress and anxiety are part of our body’s natural reactions, and they actually help protect us. However, when we don’t know how to calm ourselves down, that’s when we face health issues.
Yoga has proved that through its combination of postures, meditation and breathing, it can help reduce stress and anxiety levels. This is primarily through its effects on the nervous system. We will be discussing simple yoga practices for stress and anxiety and the ways to perform the asana.
Stress causes our autonomous nervous system to be on standby, sending hormones such as adrenalin coursing through our blood stream to activate muscles and keep them ready for fight or flight. Naturally, with increased blood flow to our larger muscle groups, blood is diverted from all non-essential areas.
When we say non-essential, we refer to those organs or muscle groups or body systems that do not immediately contribute towards survival. (For instance, our digestive system.) However, these systems cannot remain indefinitely without proper blood supply, which is why we must learn to calm our nervous system, reduce stress and anxiety, so our bodies can regain optimum and balanced function.
Here are a few yoga practices for stress and anxiety.
- Vriksasana —The Tree Pose
- Stand on your mat; shift your weight to the right leg and slowly raise your left leg and bring you’re the sole of your left foot to rest on the inner right thigh.
- Be careful not to let your left hip dip; and do not press your left foot into your right knee joint. In fact, if you are unable to place your left foot on your right thigh, you could place it on your right calf or even right ankle.
- Try and fold your hands into a prayer pose in front of your chest and breathe deeply. Hold the posture for as long as possible, up to a maximum of 2 minutes.
- And repeat on the other side.
BENEFITS: The Tree Pose helps improves balance and posture. It requires one to focus completely on the body thus diverting the mind. This helps in calming the mind.
- Trikonasana or The Triangle pose
- Stand with your feet wider than your hips.
- Now with your left foot pointing forward turn your right foot parallel to the edge of your mat and pointing to the right. Spread your arms shoulder height, palms facing downwards.
- Reach to the right, bending at the right hip, to place your right palm on the floor. (Only reach down as far as you can.) Extend your left hand in the opposite direction towards the ceiling.
- Hold for a maximum of a minute.
- Return to the standing posture and repeat on the left side.
BENEFITS: Just like the Tree Pose, this is a full body posture demanding that we pay attention to all parts of our body to achieve the posture correctly. It also provides a deep stretch to the back and thigh muscles. When we are under stress, our breath becomes shallow, and all our muscles tense up. By stretching big and small muscles groups, we naturally relax them. Blood flow to these areas improve, bringing more oxygen and nutrients.
- Uttanasana or The Standing Forward Bend
- Stand with your feet about hip-width apart. Take a deep breath in and a deeper breath out.
- With hands on hips, bend forward beginning at the hip joint, keeping your back straight and slowly folding forward. Keep a slight bend in the knee joint.
- Now try and reach the floor with your hands, keeping your neck and head loose.
- Hold for a maximum of one minute.
BENEFITS: If you can only do one pose to reduce stress, then we recommend this one, as it helps in an immediate reduction of stress levels. By folding forward and dropping your head, blood immediately courses down into your head, soothing the nerves, sending feel-good hormones down through the spinal cord to the rest of the body. You feel calmer and relaxed almost immediately.
- Matsyasana or The Fish Pose
- Lie on your back and tuck your arms under your back, palms under the buttocks facing down on the mat.
- Now arch your back up, by bending your elbows and balancing your torso weight on your forearms. (Push your palms and forearms into the mat to lift your torso.)
- Push your chest up and out, and let your head alone drop backwards onto the mat, stretching your throat.
- Hold for a maximum of one minute. As you hold the posture, let your breath be light and shallow.
BENEFITS: By pushing the chest up and out, our chest muscles stretch improving lung capacity. This supports fuller and better breathing, which in turn contributes to your feeling calmer. The tension and stress we hold in our back and neck muscles is eased.
- Balasana or The Child’s Pose
- Kneel on your mat and sit back on your heels.
- Raise your arms up and gently fold forward after a deep exhalation.
- With your arms straight out in front of you, and your forehead gently grazing the mat, crawl your palms forward to increase the stretch in the back. Alternatively, you can also rest your arms alongside your thighs with your forehead resting on the mat.
- Hold for up to 5 minutes or as long as comfortable.
BENEFITS: This one’s a total body stretch in a resting posture. So not only can you look forward to some moments of relaxation, but the posture works quietly in the background to repair and restore sore muscles by gently stretching them out. With your forehead down, once again experience peace and calm fill your body and mind.
Pratimoksha offers specialized yoga practices for stress, depression and anxiety. get in touch @ 0503955613 to know more about the therapeutic yoga.