10 Aug Use Yoga For Stress And Anxiety Relief Right Now
Many yoga benefits are physical, ranging from increased strength and flexibility to lower blood pressure. However, a regular yoga practice also provides a variety of mental health benefits, such as stress relief and improved well-being. I personally find myself coming to yoga time and again more for the mind benefits more times than the physical, Though the physical are just as important because as you’ve probably heard me say, it’s all connected.
Most yoga poses can be done just about anywhere, and a yoga session can go for hours or a few minutes depending on your schedule. Enjoy the many benefits of yoga by engaging in this practice in a way that fits your lifestyle best. Even just 15 minutes a day can change your mindset and reap you great benefits.
Why is Yoga Good for Mental Health?
Yoga continues to grow in popularity as people experience its physical and mental benefits and as health care providers are recommending the practice more and more as a result of recent studies and proven findings. Developing a personal yoga practice can help prevent and reduce stress and anxiety, which is a common goal among people who want to create positive growth and focus on self-improvement. I discovered yoga as a tool for self growth as a young adult when my interest in self-help had just started to blossom. It was meant to be!
Little did I know that even back in college, the combination of breath work, postures and movement in yoga – which stimulates what is often referred to as the “mind-body connection” – is like a happy pill for your brain every time you perform them together. If I am being real and really honest, I must admit that I have suffered the symptoms of anxiety and stress since I was a young girl but I always craved what yoga brought me when I pulled out my mat.
Whether it’s tightness in your shoulders, tension through your spine, or a seemingly never-ending headache, stress manifests itself in our bodies in various ways. Yoga, with its focus on breathing and mindful movement, might be the ultimate form of stress relief. The practice has been proven to help you relax and unwind, even on the most anxiety-filled days.
How Does Yoga Relieve Stress?
By continuing to bring your heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate down – as relaxation does overtime – you begin to reap the benefits and can better handle the micro-stressors we encounter every day. As a practice, yoga triggers the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, which when activated, signals the body and mind to relax. The deep breathing we practice in yoga helps calm you, lowering blood pressure, decreasing your heart rate, and focusing your thoughts and attention. The gentle asanas allow you to tune into your body, stretch and strengthen your muscles, release tension, and ease pain.
Yoga also has been shown to decrease the levels of cortisol, which is the stress hormone, in the body. A practice of yoga can improve your sleep, your digestion, and your immune system—all of which are definitely impacted by stress. There are many, many benefits of yoga. But the best thing about it is that the more you practice, the more prepared you’ll be to mange daily stress and emotionally and physically fraught situations as they arise. Trust me, they’re lucky I do Yoga!
As you prepare to head to your mat for a stress-busting practice, make sure you’ve created a space that cultivates a sense of calm. Dim the lights, roll out your mat, turn on some soft music, and maybe light a candle.
Easy Anxiety Acupressure Points
Before moving into asana poses, I recommend engaging in a brief self acupressure practice to induce a sense of calm to my pressure points. You can skip this part and get right to asana if you prefer but it’s so yummy, you won’t want to.
I do a little acupressure at the occipital ridge of my skulls using my thumbs, specifically below the base of the skull, in the hollow between the two vertical neck muscles off to the sides (not the center!). This acupressure practice can help release tense necks—and relieve painful headaches.
Next, I move on to the tops of my shoulders with my middle fingers. The shoulder well point is in your shoulder muscle. To find it, pinch your shoulder muscle with your middle finger and thumb. This pressure point is said to help with relieving stress, muscle tension, and headaches. It can also induce labor, so don’t use this point if you’re pregnant.
Last, I find the Union Valley Point on each hand. Find this pressure point in the webbing between your thumb and index finger. Stimulating this point is said to reduce stress, headaches, and neck pain. Like the shoulder well point, it can also induce labor, so avoid this point if you’re pregnant. With your index finger and thumb, apply firm pressure to the webbing between the thumb and index finger of your other hand. Massage the pressure point for four to five seconds, taking slow, deep breaths.
Now, let’s do yoga poses for anxiety and stress!
Yoga Poses for Stress and Anxiety
Below, I have a list of Calming Yoga Poses that you can do right now. Though, I do recommend doing these stress-reducing yoga poses each morning to start your day off right and each night for a better night’s sleep.
FOLDED BUTTERFLY POSE
How To Do Folded Butterfly Pose
- From seated, sit tall on your seat bones.
- Bring the soles of your feet together.
- Separate the feet as if you are reading a book.
- Sit tall as you inhale.
- As you exhale, slowly begin to hinge at the hips until you reach your point where you are just slightly uncomfortable but still comfortable. It’s that place between comfort and discomfort and being okay there.
- Hold for three minutes while you breathe fully in and out through your nose.
LOW LUNGE POSE
How To Do Low Lunge Pose
- From Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), exhale and step your right foot forward between your hands, aligning the right knee over the heel. Then lower your left knee to the floor and, keeping the right knee fixed in place, slide the left back until you feel a comfortable stretch in the left front thigh and groin. Turn the top of your left foot to the floor.
- Inhale and lift your torso to upright. As you do, sweep your arms out to the sides and up. Draw the tailbone downward as you lift your pubic bone toward your navel. Lift your chest from the firmness of your shoulder blades against the back torso.
- Take your head back and look up, being careful not to jam the back of your neck. Reach your pinkies toward the ceiling. Hold for a minute as you exhale your torso back to the right thigh and your hands to the floor, and turn your back toes under. With another exhale, lift your left knee off the floor and step back to Downward-Facing Dog. Repeat with the left foot forward for the same length of time.
How To Do Tree Pose
- Start out standing, with your big toes touching each other and your heels slightly apart.
- Bend your right knee, and place the sole of your right foot against your left thigh.
- Move your hands to your hips for balance.
- Make sure that your standing foot points straight forward.
- Keep your hips square, and avoid rotating your pelvis.
- Draw your right knee backwards as far as it goes while keeping your hips square.
- While holding your legs like that, raise your arms outwards and up until your palms touch above your head.
- Hold for 5–10 breaths.
How To Do Camel Pose
- Sit on knees, make sure your thighs are perpendicular to the floor and your knees are a hip-width apart.
- Check that your soles face upward and your toes are touching the floor.
- Put your hands on your sacrum or on your hips.
- Inhale and start arching your back, move your hands from hips (sacrum) to your heels one by one.
- And if your neck feels alright, carefully lengthen the back of your head.
LEGS UP THE WALL/WATERFALL POSE
How To Do Legs Up The Wall Pose
- Sit with your right side against the wall, with bent knees and your feet drawn in toward your hips.
- Swing your legs up against the wall as you turn to lie flat on your back.
- Place your hips against the wall or slightly away.
- Place your arms in any comfortable position.
- Stay in this position for up to 20 minutes.
- To release the pose, gently push yourself away from the wall.
- Relax on your back for a few moments.
- Draw your knees into your chest and roll onto your right side.
- Rest for a few moments before slowly moving into an upright position.
How to Start Enjoying the Benefits of Yoga for Stress and Anxiety
You’ll see more benefits if you practice yoga regularly, so choose a time each day to get on your mat. Try taking a class in person, if you have not. Yoga classes can be wonderful for beginners. You are surrounded by people of all levels of expertise and ability, and you will have someone talking you through the process and helping you to learn the correct form.
The list of yoga benefits is very long. One of the most notable is using yoga for stress relief. That said, this practice isn’t for everyone. So, if the physical practice isn’t possible or enjoyable for you, you may want to consider other options for boosting your mental and physical health. There are many mental health strategies focused on self-improvement and many options for reducing stress. Find what works for your mind and body and do that. If you don’t know where to start, just ask me! I have tons of resource and I love helping people.