Date 14.03.2023

Yoga poses that help alleviate stress and anxiety

Yoga poses that help alleviate stress and anxiety

There is a powerful link between your physical and mental health. When you take care of yourself, you are helping your overall wellbeing. Exercise induces changes in a part of your brain that regulates the body’s response to stress. 

While there are multiple different forms of physical exercise that help reduce stress and anxiety like cardio and interval training, yoga is a generally safe and universally well-rounded form of exercise that helps manage anxious feelings and stressful thoughts. By adding movement to your anxiety treatment routine, yoga may offer some relief as an add-on to your treatment.

To prove yoga’s effectiveness with reducing stress and anxiety, a study of 226 adults with generalized anxiety disorder were randomly assigned to 12 weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), stress management education, or Kundalini yoga. CBT had longer lasting benefits, but yoga helped significantly improve and alleviate anxiety symptoms. Other research found that people who practice yoga regularly had low cortisol levels.

Here are some overall wellness benefits of doing yoga:

  • Reduces stress
  • Relieves anxiety
  • Helps manage depression
  • Decreases lower back pain
  • Improves quality of life in those with chronic conditions or acute illnesses
  • Stimulates brain function
  • Helps prevent heart disease

“The great thing about yoga is that besides stretching and core strengthening, there is a tremendous focus on breathing, which helps to slow down and calm the mind.” - Ben Michaelis, PhD

At healf, we see the value yoga has on connecting physical wellness to mental wellness. Here is a list of a few yoga poses curated by yoga instructor Sangeeta Vallabhan that you can do to help connect your body to your mind and reduce your stress and anxiety.

6 poses to easy stress and anxiety

When doing these poses, try going to a quiet space and play soft music. Before you begin, get in a mindset that you will use this dedicated time to take care of yourself. 

“All of these poses can help people feel more present in their body and will definitely move them in the direction of reducing stress and anxiety, as well as sadness or anger” - Sangeeta Vallabhan

1. Seated side bend

  • Sit cross-legged on a yoga block or the floor
  • Place right hand on the floor to the right side of your legs
  • Reach left arm up and overhead, bending from the waist to the right
  • Look up and hold for 3-5 breaths
  • Repeat on other side

2. Downward dog

  • Start in a plank position
  • Lift hips up and back forming a triangle shape with the body
  • Press hands and feet into the ground as hips move up
  • Knees can be straight or slightly bent
  • Hold for 5 breaths

3. Extended side angle

  • Start in a plank position
  • Lift hips up and back forming a triangle shape with the body
  • Press hands and feet into the ground as hips move up
  • Knees can be straight or slightly bent
  • Hold for 5 breaths

4. Warrior II

  • Stand with feet wide apart
  • Place right foot forward and left foot turned in at 30 degrees
  • Bend right knee to 90 degrees with thigh parallel to floor
  • Extend arms out to both sides with palms facing down
  • Right arm should extend forward and left arm backward
  • Hold for 5 breaths
  • Repeat on other side

5. Plank

  • Start in a push-up position
  • Keep shoulders over wrists and create a straight line from shoulders to hips to heels
  • Engage core, lengthen torso, press through heels
  • Hold for 3 to 5 breaths

6. Restorative savasana

  • Lie on back with a towel or blanket rolled and placed under knees
  • Add another towel or blanket under head
  • Close eyes and relax body
  • Stay in Savasana for 5-10 minutes

Conclusion

Yoga is a great way to add movement to your routine to reduce stress and anxiety no matter how physically fit you are. Overall, these movements will help connect your mind to your body and ease any tension you may be feeling. 

If you want to try these poses out for yourself, here are some products we recommend:

Sources

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