Yoga feels like a therapy. It rejuvenates and refreshes your body and mind. You feel alive and could sense a deep connection building among your body, mind, and soul.
For the very same reason, yoga is an incredibly powerful tool to help relieve anxiety. Selecting appropriate asanas (postures) can help you calm the mind, relax the body, and release nervous tension.
Yoga asanas can be selected for their therapeutic results. This is typical of Ayurvedic yoga or Ayuryoga. In this style of yoga, the practice you do is tailored to your mind, body type or prakruti.
Yoga For Anxiety
Yoga means union. It is the union of the self consciousness (atma) with the universal consciousness (paramatma) or your higher soul. Yoga is not merely the physical postures of twists and turns and stretches. It involves much more!
Essentially, what it means is yoga can tame the mind. It is the nature of the mind to jump from one thought to the other. This is commonly referred to as the monkey mind. Yoga helps to calm down this chatter.
When anxiety becomes severe, it interferes with your everyday life, leading to anxiety disorder. The fear may be with you all the time. It is intense and sometimes debilitating. This type of anxiety may cause you to stop doing things you enjoy. If left untreated, anxiety can keep getting worse. This is where yoga can be of some help. Yoga practice can help you control your fears by slowing the activity of your monkey mind.
Symptoms Of An Anxiety Disorder
- Feel unusually panicky, scared, and uneasy
- Tend to lose control, get obsessive thoughts of past traumatic experiences
- Wake up from nightmares frequently
- Tend to repeatedly wash your hands
- Have trouble sleeping
- Hands and feet are unusually sweaty
- Frequent palpitations.
According to Ayurvedic medicine, anxiety is an expression of excessive Vata in mano vaha srotas (the channel of the mind). This occurs along with the predominance of rajas and tamas (manashik guna), qualities of activity and inertia in the mind.
Vata dosha for the mind
When aggravated Vata accumulates in the channel of the mind, it tends to cause constriction or dries up the nerve tissues. This causes obstruction in the natural movement of Vata dosha_,_ leading to fear, anxiety, contraction, and even loneliness.
Yoga For Anxiety: 10 Poses (asanas)
Here are ten yoga asanas which may help calm an unsettled mind:
- Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
- Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
- Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)
- Janu Sirsasana (One-Legged Forward Bend)
- Marjariasana (Cat Stretch)
- Paschimottanasana (Two-Legged Forward Bend)
- Hastapadasana (Standing Forward Bend)
- Adho Mukha Savasana (Downward-Facing Dog)
- Sirsasana (Headstand)
- Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
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Another way to control the monkey mind is to watch your breath. Paying attention to your breath can free the mind from the clutter of thoughts, and help release anxiety.
After practicing yoga, sit quietly, and do some deep breathing exercises (Pranayama). These five exercises may provide some relief:
- Nadi shodhan pranayama or Anuloma viloma pranayama (Alternate nostril breathing or balancing breath)
- Sitali Pranayama (Rapid turtle breathing)
- Kapalbhati Pranayama (Bellow breathing)
- Bhastrika Pranayama (Yogic breath of fire)
- Bhramari Pranayama (Bee breath)
Yoga For Your Mind
It does not matter what form of yoga asanas you follow. If you keep to the basics of inhaling and exhaling throughout the practice, it helps in oxygenating your muscles and rejuvenating your mind.
Another very powerful tool to consider is meditation.
Meditation helps you create a peaceful time for yourself in the day. There are thousands of meditation practices from different traditions to choose from. Find a meditation style that suits your needs and daily routine.
Scientific research has shown that regular meditation practice can help significantly reduce levels of stress hormones.
Dr. Elizabeth Hoge, psychiatrist at the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders at Massachusetts General Hospital, says that mindful meditation makes perfect sense for treating anxiety.
“People with anxiety have a problem dealing with distracting thoughts that have too much power,” she explains. “They can’t distinguish between a problem-solving thought and a nagging worry that has no benefit.”
READ MORE: Get rid of anxiety by pacifying Vata dosha
Regular yoga practice can help you stay calm and relaxed in daily life. It also gives you the strength to face daily life event as they come, without getting nervous.
Yoga practice ideally includes a complete arrangement of _asanas (_body postures), pranayamas (breathing techniques), meditation, and philosophy. These have all helped several anxiety sufferers recover and face life with new positivity and strength.
We all know that a healthy mind starts with a healthy body. A healthy body requires proper stamina, strength, and endurance to maintain appropriate levels of energy.
Ayurveda traditionally recommends including ‘rasayana’, a special category of herbs that invigorates the body, enhances rejuvenation, and promotes lifespan as well as longevity, like Ashwagandha or Indian Ginseng, Tulsi, etc.
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Ashwagandha is revered in Ayurveda for its truly amazing healing properties that help lead a meaningful life of essence. It banishes all the troubles of a frail physique, and is even known to make your body look and feel healthier, sturdier, and youthful.
It is often used in Ayurveda as a supplement for internal consumption for restfulness of the mind, body strength, and to promote relaxation. Various studies have also proved that Ashwagandha considerably helps in reducing stress-levels and can be used as a tonic for the nerves.
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Please Note: Yoga alone should not be considered as the only treatment option. A yoga practice can complement proper medication after consultation with a healthcare provider or qualified Ayurvedic practitioner. An expert can properly guide you so you can understand the type of anxiety disorder you may have and the best course of treatment.