Yoga for Anxiety Relief - 11 Easy and Gentle Yoga Poses

Yoga for Anxiety Relief - 11 Easy and Gentle Yoga Poses

How Yoga Can Help Ease Anxiety

Anxiety can cause feelings of unease for someone throughout the day. These feelings can manifest themselves as worries or fears, and symptoms of anxiety can range in severity from mild to extreme.

Whilst anxiety is a natural thing to feel every now and again, like before a driving test, public speaking, or job interviews, some people suffer from anxiety and panic attacks can find it difficult to manage their feelings of anxiety throughout their daily lives - which can have an effect on how they go about their lives in general.

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and other depressive disorders are diagnosable conditions that can cause people to experience feelings of anxiety throughout their daily lives in regards to a range of situations and issues, and not just one specific event or topic at a time. People who have a generalised anxiety disorder may even struggle to remember the last time they felt relaxed, or not completely on edge, and it can be a debilitating condition when it is not properly managed or treated.

In order to get a real hold over their symptoms of anxiety, many people turn to gentle yoga for anxiety and yoga therapy when their anxious feelings start to creep in throughout the day, or during times of stress, in order to relieve these symptoms.

Why is Yoga for Stress and Anxiety Beneficial?

During times of heightened feelings of stress, anxiety, and even depression, yoga practice for anxiety can be a greatly beneficial part of your life if you stick with it.

When completing your yoga poses for anxiety, you may find that focusing on your breath and your ability to be present in each pose can help to quiet down negative mental chatter, and even boost your overall mood once your yoga routine for anxiety is complete.

Yoga for anxiety is all about meeting yourself where you are, and practising one or two postures, positions, or exercises for a few minutes per day can have a significant impact on the overall improvement of your mental health - you just need to make yourself open to the practice, rather than outright rejecting it.

In order to really benefit your body and mind from your sessions of yoga for anxiety, we recommend taking note of the sensations you feel throughout your body as you move into each pose. Allow yourself to fully experience whatever feelings and emotions arise during these sessions. In the event you feel your thoughts and mind wandering, try to gently bring your mind back and continue your practice within your yoga sessions.

Our 11 Favourite Yoga Exercises for Anxiety Relief

Having a generalised anxiety disorder, or suffering from stress or depression, can have a real and significant effect on the daily life of someone who suffers from the conditions. When you find that these feelings are becoming a bit too much at times, practising yoga for anxiety can be greatly beneficial in alleviating some of these symptoms and grounding your mind.

Below, we describe some of our favourite techniques, positions, and exercises when it comes to beginner yoga for anxiety, with steps on how to do them for maximum benefit. We hope you give them a try.

Hero Pose

This seated pose can help you to effectively find your centre and rebalance yourself. By focusing on your breath, these yoga poses for anxiety disorder may work in helping you find ease in the stillness of this pose.

The muscles the Hero Pose activates are:

  • erector spinae
  • quadriceps
  • knee muscles
  • ankle muscles

How to do the hero pose:

  1. Find somewhere comfortable, and get into a kneeling position. While kneeling, your knees should remain together, and your feet should be slightly wider than your hips.
  2. Keep the tops of your feet flat on the floor.
  3. If you find where you are kneeling uncomfortable, feel free to place a cushion or a soft object under the area feeling the most pain.
  4. Place your hands on your thighs.
  5. Sit up straight in order to effectively open your chest up, and lengthen your spine.
  6. Hold this pose for up to five minutes.

Tree Pose

The tree pose is a classic that you may instantly recognise when it comes to practising yoga for anxiety and depression. The standing tree pose may work to help you focus your energy and thoughts inward, helping to quiet your racing thoughts.

Targeted muscles include:

  • abdominals
  • psoas
  • quadriceps
  • tibialis anterior

How to do the tree pose:

  1. Begin by standing on both legs in a neutral position. Bear your weight with your right foot, and slowly lift your left foot off the ground.
  2. Slowly turn the bottom of your left foot towards the inside of your left leg.
  3. From here, you have a range of options of where to place the sole of your left foot. You can choose between your left ankle, your calf, or your thigh, depending on how flexible and balanced you are.
  4. Avoid pressing your foot into your knee at any time.
  5. Now for your hands. Bring your hands into any comfortable position to rest. This could be in the prayer position in front of your heart, or hanging beside you.
  6. Hold this pose for two minutes.
  7. Repeat this on the opposite side.

Triangle Pose

If you suffer from tension in your neck and back, especially during panic attacks and severe anxious episodes, these energising yoga poses for anxiety and panic attacks can help to relieve them.

The targeted muscles for the triangle pose are:

  • latissimus dorsi
  • internal oblique
  • gluteus maximus and medius
  • hamstrings
  • quadriceps

How to do the triangle pose:

  1. Begin in a standing position where your feet are slightly wider than your hips.
  2. Face the toes on your left foot forward, and the toes on your right at a slight angle.
  3. Lift your arms to extend them out from your shoulders - making sure to face your palms down.
  4. As you reach forward with your left hand, extend your torso forward.
  5. Hinge at your hip joint in order to bring your right hip back. From here, you can take your left hand to your leg, a balance block, or even the floor if you’re flexible enough.
  6. From there, extend your right arm up towards the ceiling, or the sky.
  7. Direct your gaze towards anywhere comfortable.
  8. Hold this pose for up to one minute, and then do the opposite side for the same duration.

Standing Forward Bend

If you suffer from tension within your body and a cloudy mind during periods of anxiety, stress, or depression, this yoga exercise for anxiety and depression can help to release it.

The muscles being targeted by the standing forward bend include:

  • spinal muscles
  • piriformis
  • hamstrings
  • gastrocnemius
  • gracilis

Steps to effectively complete the standing forward bend:

  1. Begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart, with your hands on your hips.
  2. Exhale as you hinge at the hips to fold your body forward - making sure to keep a slight bend in your knees.
  3. Drop your hands to the floor, or rest them on a balance block if needed.
  4. Tuck your chin into your chest as much as is comfortable.
  5. Release the tension in your lower back and hips. From here, your head and neck should hang heavy towards the floor.
  6. Hold this pose for up to one minute.

Fish Pose

If you experience tightness in your chest and back, like during a panic attack or severe anxiety symptoms, these yoga exercises for anxiety relief can help to provide relief.

The muscles worked by the backbend fish pose are:

  • intercostals
  • hip flexors
  • trapezius
  • abdominals

How to do the fish pose:

  1. Sit on the floor, legs outstretched to the front.
  2. Place your hands with your palms facing down underneath your buttocks.
  3. From here, squeeze your elbows together - expanding your chest as you do.
  4. Lean back into your forearms and elbows, pressing into your arms to stay lifted in your chest and to not slump.
  5. If you find this comfortable, try letting your head hand back towards the floor. If this is difficult, you can rest it on a block or cushion; or even omit this step completely.
  6. Hold this pose for up to one minute.

Extended Puppy Pose

This heart-opening yoga for anxiety can help to stretch and lengthen your spine which may help to relieve tension.

The muscles targeted by the extended puppy pose include:

  • deltoids
  • trapezius
  • erector spinae
  • triceps
  1. Get onto all fours, also known as getting into a tabletop position.
  2. Extend your hands forward by a few inches, then, sink your bottom down towards your heels.
  3. Press your body into your hands, engaging your arm muscles. Make sure you keep your elbows lifted.
  4. From here, gently rest your forehead on the floor.
  5. Allow your chest to open and soften during the process of this pose.
  6. Hold this pose for up to two minutes at a time.

Child’s Pose, or Foetal Position

If you suffer from insomnia, stress, and over-fatigue, these yoga poses for anxiety and insomnia may help to ease these symptoms.

Muscles worked:

  • gluteus maximus
  • rotator muscles
  • hamstrings
  • spinal extensors

To do this:

  1. Get into a kneeling position. From there, sink back into your heels.
  2. Fold yourself forward by walking your hands out in front of you.
  3. Allow your torso to fall heavy into your upper legs and thighs. Rest your forehead on the floor.
  4. Keep your arms either extended forward, in front of your head on the floor, or rest them to the sides of your body.
  5. Hold this pose for up to five minutes at a time.

Head-to-Knee Forward Bend

These yoga poses for anxiety and insomnia may help to soothe an overstimulated nervous system so that you can relax and sleep easier.

Muscles worked:

  • groyne
  • hamstrings
  • spinal extensors
  • Gastrocnemius

To do the head-to-knee forward bend effectively, you must:

  1. Sit on the edge of a cushion, or a folded blanket, with your left leg extended.
  2. Press the sole of your right foot into your left thigh.
  3. If this is comfortable, or you feel as if there is a lack of support, place a cushion or block under either knee to provide comfort and support.
  4. Extend your arms overhead, and inhale as you do this.
  5. Hinge at the hips, exhaling whilst you do, in order to lengthen your spine as you fold forward.
  6. Rest your hands anywhere on your body, or on the floor if this is comfortable.
  7. Hold this position for up to five minutes.
  8. Repeat on the opposite side.

Seated Forward Bend

One of the best poses of yoga for anxiety, the seated forward bend is thought to calm the mind; all while relieving the person of anxiety. If you find that your thoughts begin to wander during this practice, take this time to turn inward and focus your thoughts back to what you’re doing.

Muscles targeted by this exercise:

  • pelvic muscles
  • erector spinae
  • gluteus maximus
  • gastrocnemius

How to do the seated forward bend:

  1. With your legs stretched out straight in front of you, sit on the edge of a folded blanket or cushion. A slight bend in the knees is not a problem here.
  2. Inhale while you lift up your arms.
  3. Slowly hinge your body at the hips and extend forward. You can rest your hands anywhere on your body, or on the floor.
  4. Remain in this pose for up to five minutes.

Legs-up-the-Wall Pose

This yoga for anxiety is a restorative pose that allows for complete relaxation of your body and mind.

Muscles involved and used:

  • hamstrings
  • pelvic muscles
  • lower back
  • front torso
  • back of the neck

To do the legs-up-the-wall pose:

  1. Begin by sitting with your right side against a flat wall.
  2. Lie back and swing your legs up along the wall.
  3. Make sure your buttocks are as close to the wall as possible while remaining comfortable. This can be touching the wall, or a couple of centimetres away.
  4. Relax your shoulders and soften in your back, chest, and neck. Allow your body to feel as if it is melting into the floor.
  5. Hold this position for up to ten minutes.

Reclining Bound Angle Pose

This relaxing and gentle yoga for anxiety can help you to relieve yourself from anxious feelings and promote an overall sense of calmness within. You can make it more of a heart and chest opening exercise by placing a block or cushion underneath your back for more of a stretch.

Muscles in use:

  • adductors
  • groyne muscles
  • pelvic muscles
  • psoas

To do the reclining bound angle pose:

  1. Lie on your back and bring the soles of your feet together by lowering your knees.
  2. Place cushions underneath your knees or hips to provide support.
  3. Place one hand over your belly button, and one hand on your heart. Make sure to stay focussed on your breath.
  4. Stay in this pose for up to ten minutes.

Does Practising Yoga for Anxiety Really Work?

It has been found that practising yoga can help to significantly reduce the feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. A 2017 study found that even a single session of hatha yoga had the effect of reducing stress from a small psychological stressor - in this case, the stressor was a mathematics task.

After the completion of a video-instructed yoga session, participants reported reduced blood pressure and increased levels of self-confidence.

Although this recent research does suggest practising yoga for anxiety can act as an effective way to relieve symptoms of anxiety, especially when practised alongside our aforementioned yoga breathing exercises for anxiety, it may not be a suitable approach for everyone.

Please do keep in mind that practising yoga for anxiety can sometimes cause uncomfortable feelings and emotions to surface, so we highly recommend practising in a space that feels comfortable and safe.

This may mean that you end up doing yoga at home, or joining a yoga class with a yoga teacher who has specific tools to help with emotional healing and stress relief. Alternatively, if you find that yoga for anxiety actually heightens your symptoms, we also recommend discontinuing the practice.

Did you know that magnesium can actually help to reduce anxiety and help you to relax? Enhance your relaxing yoga experience with a tantalisingly fruity can of sparkling magnesium water. Each can of OHMG contains 56mg of magnesium, that’s about as much as an avocado.

Begin your journey into relaxation today.

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