Stress exists in our day-to-day life, and it is something that we have to learn to live with. We have many and different ways to effectively and positively deal with everyday stressors so that eventually we are able to overcome these negative feelings and be ‘normal’ again. However, for some people, it isn’t as easy as that. When stress or anxiety strikes, the bad thoughts and emotions don’t go away so easily, sometimes to the point that they are immobilized.
Yoga is a recommended practice for those who suffer from anxiety and depression because it allows the body and mind to slow down. It is reported to be effective because it lowers cortisol levels, improves breathing and oxygen flow, releases tension, and restores mental calm. Some of the most recommend poses to try are the following.
1. Corpse Pose (Savasana)
You can do this after completing a sequence or any time you feel overwhelmed as it is deeply relaxing and simple. You lie on your back, arms at your sides, palms up, and focus on your breathing for one to ten minutes. It allows the body to really sink into the ground and become in tune with your breathing because you can see your belly rise up and down.
2. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Sitting on the knees and bending forward with your arms at the sides while lying on your belly can be very comforting and self-soothing. This is one of the well-loved resting poses in yoga as it helps individuals to turn inside and slow their minds down. It also allows you to rest your forehead on the Earth and feel more grounded.
3. Legs Up Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
This is a simple but effective pose as it helps one to escape an over-active mind and even aids with insomnia and relaxation. It also doesn’t require much flexibility and strength, allowing even beginners to do it with relative ease and comfort.
4. Supported Shoulder Stand (Salamba Sarvangasana)
For those who are already a little more advanced in yoga, this is highly recommended. Inversions, which include shoulder stands and headstands, can literally turn things upside down by putting you in a different position, giving you a different perspective, and letting you get out of your mind and your negative thoughts as it requires a lot of focus.
5. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
Whether done on its own or in between other poses, this gentle inversion is a great way to soothe the mind and release the upper body. It can calm your nervous system, yet energize you by improving the blood circulation in your body.
6. Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
As a basic standing balance pose, it helps to increase concentration and calm the mind because balancing forces you to focus on where you currently are and in maintaining your equilibrium.
7. Upward or Downward Facing Dog
The upward facing dog opens up your heart and relieves some stress in the lower back, while the downward can positively affect the emotions as it helps to ground and stabilize you.
What to Remember
In extreme cases of anxiety and depression, it is still recommended to seek professional psychological and emotional guidance, while integrating yoga into their therapy and healing.