Yoga is an ancient practice that combines breathing exercises, meditation and various body postures. It has multiple applications, and can be very useful in promoting relaxation of the body and mind.

Yoga for anxiety is one of the many facets of this habit , and it is useful to get away from stress. In this article we will look at its key elements and propose 4 yoga postures for beginners.

What is yoga?

Yoga is a discipline, a practice and a philosophy of life, which helps us to connect body and mind. It is also a lifestyle for many and many. We find its origins in India, a country where it is practiced a lot.

On the other hand, yoga includes a great variety of exercises that combine different postures with meditation and conscious and slow breathing . Through yoga many people manage to reduce their stress levels, become aware of their breathing, their body and their thoughts, and relax.

In the next section we will focus on the yoga practices for anxiety , useful exercises to reduce stress.

Yoga for Anxiety

Yoga, as we have seen, is used for various purposes: to relax, to connect body and mind, to acquire consciousness about the body and breathing, to learn to connect with thoughts, but also to escape, etc.

On the other hand, anxiety consists of an altered psychophysiological state that causes diverse symptoms . These symptoms may be dizziness, tension, body discomfort, gastric discomfort, migraines and headaches, nausea, vomiting, over-excitement, nervousness, etc. In addition, anxiety also includes cognitive symptoms (negative thoughts, loss of concentration, memory difficulties, irritability, feelings of going crazy, etc.) and behavioural symptoms (impulsivity, agitation, hyperactivity, avoidance behaviour, etc.). In other words, it is a state that brings together elements of the body (physical) and the mind (cognitive).

That is why yoga can help to alleviate this kind of discomfort, since this practice works with the body and the mind to reach a balance and a sense of peace. And, precisely, the feeling of peace is what one seeks when one feels anxiety.

In short, yoga for anxiety can be very beneficial, as we will see below.

How does yoga work on mild anxiety?

We have seen how yoga for anxiety can be a good technique to use when we are going through a stressful time or with certain levels of overload and stress. Here we will focus on talking about yoga for cases of mild anxiety , since in cases of moderate or severe anxiety it is advisable to attend psychological therapy, sometimes combined with a psychopharmacological treatment. In any case, the latter two options can also be used in cases of mild anxiety.

But… how does yoga act on anxiety when it starts to be a factor in our well-being? Basically through body movements, physical exercise, breathing and meditation:

1. Body

Yoga for anxiety can be helpful because it connects with the body, just like anxiety. The body is the main tool of yoga (along with meditation and breathing exercises). In this way, through it we perform the different postures. As we acquire some practice and know a little more how our organism works, we can improve the exercises and practice more difficult ones.

The body connects directly to our physiological state, and an altered or hyper-excited physiological state is the basis for anxiety. That is why through the body (and yoga) we can improve our anxiety levels.

2. Physical exercise

For many people, youga is practically a sport; moreover, although the physical exercise done with yoga is not particularly intense (at least if we compare it to sports such as basketball, football, fitness, etc.), it does involve physical exercise. Physical exercise is good for health, and health and anxiety are antagonistic. That is, when we have anxiety we are not “healthy”, in the sense that our body and mind are suffering, they are not “resting”.

In this way, with the physical exercise that is done with yoga our mild anxiety levels can also decrease slightly (and more with practice).

3. Breathing

Finally, breathing is another key element in yoga, which is essential for reducing stress. When we suffer from anxiety, our breathing is usually more agitated (especially in the “high” moments of anxiety). It is often difficult to notice that our breathing is accelerated, simply because we do not notice it.

But try this exercise when you are especially agitated: listen to your breathing. It’s as simple as that. Once you detect that your breathing is fast, try to breathe more slowly, inhaling deeply until your stomach is full and exhaling little by little all the air.

Practice these steps a few times and you will see how your breathing slows down and you feel more relaxed. It’s amazing how by controlling your breathing we can feel much more relaxed!

Thus, since in yoga exercises breathing control is a central element, with a lot of practice this can help us reduce mild anxiety.

4. Meditation

In this case, we’re talking about mind control. Meditation allows us to relax, to let thoughts flow without stopping at them and, in short, to learn to avoid them for the benefit of the body and the mind.

As we have seen, when we suffer from anxiety our mind becomes overactive: we feel overwhelmed, overexcited and in a state of alert. In addition, we often have negative thoughts or constant worries in our heads. Therefore, yoga meditation can be beneficial for our anxiety.

4 yoga postures for beginners

We have seen how yoga for anxiety can work, reducing our stress levels through breathing, body, exercise and meditation.

Now we are going to look at 4 simple yoga postures that can help us reduce mild anxiety. Logically, will be useful with the practice and in combination with other yoga exercises .

1. Upside-down dog posture

This is one of the typical yoga postures, ideal for beginners. It consists of inclining the trunk downwards, stretching the arms and supporting them on the floor, with the legs slightly apart. Our body has to be in the form of an inverted “V” .

2. Upside-down dog posture with leg raised

This second posture is an evolution of the previous one; in this way, we raise one of the legs upwards . We do this by first separating the foot from the ground and raising it progressively.

We’ll have to stay like this for a few seconds, with our leg fixed and strong.

3. Warrior’s posture

In the warrior’s stance, we will stand with our legs slightly open, one in front of the other. The trunk and back must remain straight. We breathe in deeply and breathe out; we bend the right knee at a 90º angle, and raise both arms with our hands interlaced and upwards .

4. Cow posture

In this position, we will stand on all fours on the floor (mat) (with knees and hands touching the ground). The hands should be placed just below the shoulders, and the knees below the hips. Head straight forward, and feet stretched out.

We will have to lift and round the column; we will put the coccyx in and push the butt out. We look at the fact, we breathe in and out.

Bibliographic references:

  • Baptista, M.R. and Dantas, E.H. (2002). Yoga for stress management. Fit Perf J, Rio de Janeiro, 13-20.
  • Góngora, M.M. (2014). Hatha Yoga for anxiety and addictions. Editorial Oriente, Santiago de Cuba.
  • Korman, G.P. and Garay, C.J. (2007). Complementary therapy: cognitive therapy and yoga, 85-96.
  • Krisanaprakornkit, T., Krisanaprakornkit, W. et al. (2008). Meditation therapy for anxiety disorders. The Cochrane Library, 2: 1-22.