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Yoga for anxiety: Try these 5 easy exercises to beat stress | Health


Meditation, good sleeping routine and stretching helps one to focus and relax but when anxiety starts to creep in or during times of stress, many people turn to Yoga. It might seem contradictory but by exercising and putting physical stress on one’s body, mental tensions can be relieved.

Yoga is a form of exercise that combines stretching, breathing, relaxation and meditation and has various asana or body postures that include sitting meditation pose, reclining, standing, inverted, twisting and balancing poses to overcome all kinds of sufferings and lead to ‘the state of liberation’ (Moksha) or ‘freedom’ (Kaivalya) and self-realisation. Studies have often suggested that Yoga can enhance mood and according to some researches, it may even be as effective as antidepressant drugs at treating depression and anxiety.

Yoga practice helps lower stress and anxiety by releasing endorphins, improving sleep pattern and self-image. Hence, people who do Yoga regularly are less likely to experience anxiety as compared to those who don’t since benefits of the asana are strongest when one performs them regularly.

Looking for some calming poses to deal with anxiety or stress disorder? Check below for the steps and benefits of 5 easy-to-do Yoga asana at home to get promising results.

1. Sukhasana or easy pose

Method: Sit on a Yoga mat or on the floor with your legs stretched out. Bend one of your legs and place it under the opposite thigh and repeat the same with the other leg.

Sit erect, keep your head, neck and trunk aligned in a straight line, put your hands on your knees or thighs in Chin Mudra or Jnana Mudra. Turn your palms up to be receptive or down to feel grounded and inhaling slowly, feel your spine grow long while on exhaling, root down through your seat.

Benefits: Apart from finding stillness and tranquility, this asana relieves muscle and joint pains as it helps the practitioner in maintaining a good posture, gives flexibility, keeps the back straight and provides strength to the legs. This in turn lengthens the back muscles and spine, broadens the collarbones and chest, stretches the external aspect of the knees and unlocks the hips.

2. Balasana or Child’s Pose or Child’s Resting Pose

Method: Sit on your heels on the floor or a yoga mat and keep your knees either together or wide apart. Slowly, exhale and bend forward to touch the floor with your forehead or rest it on a block or two stacked fists while keeping your arms alongside your body and palms facing up.

Alternatively, you can keep your palms facing down on the mat by reaching out your arms towards the front of the yoga mat. Now, if your knees are together, gently press your chest on the thighs or press your chest between the thighs if the knees are apart.

Relax the shoulders, jaw and eyes and find a comfortable place for the forehead as there is an energy point at its center, in between the eyebrows, that supports a “rest and digest” response by stimulating the vagus nerve. Hold onto the pose for as long as you like and pull your navel towards your spine while inhaling and softening your body and the arms while exhaling. Return to the sitting position on the heels slowly while inhaling and as if uncurling the spine.

Benefits: This beginner’s Yoga pose not only helps to reduce stress and anxiety by helps releasing the tension in the chest, back and shoulders but also helps if you have a bout of dizziness or fatigue during the day or during your workout. It can help relieve back pain as it is a gentle stretch for the back, hips, thighs and ankles.

Precautions: This exercise is not recommended for pregnant women or those suffering from diarrhea or knee injury.

3. Savasana/Shavasana or corpse pose

Method: Lie on your back with your legs straight and arms relaxed at your sides. Gently close your eyes while keeping your feet a comfortable distance apart in a natural position and keep your arms straight along the body but away from the torso while resting your palms facing up.

Breathe naturally, allow your body to feel heavy on the ground and focus all your attention on your toes. Then shift your attention and begin to release each part of your body, organ and cell, consciously working from the toes up to the top of your head. Bring your mind gently back to your body if it wanders.

Be sure that you do not fall asleep and relax your face, feeling your eyes drop into your sockets and the softening of your jaw. Draw your attention to the sounds around you and try to find the most distant one until you find the sound closest to you.

When you feel relaxed, exit the pose by gently bringing your awareness back to your body and wriggle your fingers and toes while still keeping your eyes closed. Draw your knees in and slowly roll over to one side in sukhasana pose. Rest there for a moment in a comfortable seated position and open your eyes gently while slowly turning your attention outwards.

Benefits: Shavasana along with deep breathing relaxes the nervous system more than any other Yoga asana and this instantly brings down the body temperature. It relieves stress, repairs cells, relaxes the body and helps self-healing without pills for pregnant women.

4. Vrikshasana or tree pose

Method: Balance yourself on one leg, with the other one folded and supported on your inner thigh. Stretch out your hands above your head and point them directly upwards.

Clasp them together in anjali mudra. Gaze in the distance, shift the weight to your left leg while keeping the right knee bent in half lotus position and hold onto this posture for a few seconds before releasing and repeating the same with the alternate leg.

Benefits: This asana helps to bring balance to your mind and body. It makes your legs stronger and is a great hip opener as assists it the body in establishing pelvic stability and strengthens the bones of the hips and legs.

The shift of the entire body’s weight to each leg strengthens the ligaments and tendon of the feet. It also helps strengthen the thighs, calves and ankles and and helps improve focus.

Precautions: This asana should be avoided by those who suffer from vertigo or migraine or insomnia issues.

5. Matsyasana or the Fish Pose

Method: Lie down on your back with legs straight on the floor and hands beside the thighs. Keep your palms near the shoulders and your fingers pointing towards them. Inhale, press your palms on the floor, lift your shoulders and head up and drop the top of the head on the floor.

Arch your back while keeping your hands up in namaskar mudra. Lift both of your legs at 45 degrees angle. Hold the posture for 10 seconds and release.

Benefits: This exercise has multiple benefits. From stretching the chest, abs, hip flexors and neck to stimulating two important areas of the body. First is the throat chakra which relates to communication and self-expression and second is the crown chakra, on the top of your head, which is tied to wisdom and knowledge.

Precautions: Avoid this pose if you have a neck or back injury or even if you have a headache.

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