Can Yoga Help My Anxiety?
Anxiety is one of the most common yet overlooked mental disorders worldwide. About 14 percent of Australians develop this condition over a one-year period. Women are more likely to experience anxiety symptoms than men. If left untreated, this disorder can lead to depression, suicidal thoughts, phobias, and other mental illnesses. The good news is that you successfully prevent and treat anxiety through lifestyle changes. Yoga, regular exercise, deep breathing, and meditation are particularly effective.
What Is Anxiety?
Everyone experiences anxiety at some point in life. You might feel anxious before an exam, when working on a project, or during a business meeting. However, anxiety disorders cause symptoms that don’t go away within days or months. Your fears can get worse over time, leading to chronic depression, poor sleep, and psychosomatic diseases. For instance, if you have IBS, anxiety can trigger flare-ups and affect digestive function. In severe cases, this mental disorder can interfere with your daily life and keep you from reaching your goals.
People with anxiety experience constant fear and worry. Their symptoms can be debilitating. There are several types of anxiety disorders, and each has unique characteristics. Social anxiety disorder causes excessive stress and worries about social situations, such as being in a crowded room or walking on a busy street. Panic disorder triggers panic attacks that characterized by chest pain, arrhythmia, difficulty breathing, and excessive sweating. It feels like you’re having a heart attack. Some people develop specific phobias, such as the fear of heights or narrow spaces.
Generalized anxiety disorder causes mental tension and excessive worry for no obvious reason. You may find yourself thinking obsessively about money, health, school, or personal problems. These irrational fears can affect your life, including your career, relationships, and social skills. Those who suffer from this condition feel that something bad will happen if they leave home, drive the car, or get out of their comfort zone. Anxiety may also trigger:
- Mood swings
- Difficulty concentrating
- Poor mental focus
- Anticipating the worst
- Feelings of dread
- Trouble falling asleep
- Fatigue and low energy
- Muscle tension
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
People struggling with anxiety are constantly watching for signs of danger. They’re alert all the time and experience increased stress. Anxiety may cause physical symptoms too, such as insomnia, trembling, frequent urination, stomach upset, and excessive sweating. When you’re anxious, your stress hormone levels increase. As a result, your body enters the fight-or-flight mode and becomes alert. In the long run, this leads to chronic stress, depression, and anxiety attacks. You may feel like you’re going to pass out, go crazy, or lose control.
Medications can only relieve your symptoms without treating the actual cause of anxiety. The benefits are temporary, so you’ll feel anxious as soon as you forget to take your pill. Natural anxiety remedies and stress relief techniques work better and have none of the side effects associated with most drugs. Yoga has been for over 5,000 years as a cure for anxiety, stress, and other common health concerns. It’s one of the best ways to calm your mind and find your inner balance.
How Yoga Relieves Anxiety Naturally
A growing body of research indicates that yoga relieves depression and anxiety. Since the ’70s, this discipline has gained popularity as a natural cure for stress relief and mental illnesses. Yoga is actually the fastest growing activity in Australia. More than two million people living here practice yoga regularly. This form of exercise is more popular than tennis, cricket, soccer, or golf.
For those struggling with anxiety, yoga can be a live saver. This practice helps calm your mind and improves brain function, which helps reduce anxiety. It also improves your body’s ability to cope with stress and handle the demands of a busy lifestyle. Certain asanas, such as the bridge pose, the bow pose, the cat pose, and the camel pose, have been proven benefits. These poses help synchronize the two hemispheres of the brain, reduce stress levels, and lower heart rate. With regular practice, they relieve mental tension and ward off anxiety.
When practicing yoga, your brain’s dopamine and endorphin levels increase.
This helps lift your mood and improves your perspective on life. It also reduces withdrawal symptoms in those fighting an addiction. Yoga helps your body recover from trauma and chronic abuse while reducing the harmful effects of stress. Over time, it can help you stay calm and control your emotions more efficiently, make better decision, and get rid of negative thoughts. Some of best yoga poses for anxiety include:
- Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
- Adhomukha Shwanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
- Marjariasana (Cat Stretch)
- Setubandhasana (Bridge Pose)
- Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)
- Padangusthasana (Big Toe Pose)
- Nadi Shodhana Pranayama (Channel Cleaning Breath)
- Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)
- Anjali Mudra (Salutation Seal)
Many health care providers recommend yoga and other mind-body therapies instead of medications. A study conducted in 2011 revealed that nearly 6.4 million Americans with anxiety have been advised by their physicians to practice yoga and meditation. This trend is also happening in Australia. This holistic approach to anxiety yields lasting results and promotes optimal health.
There are different styles of yoga available, so you can easily find one that best suits your needs. Hot yoga, also known as Bikram yoga, involves a mix of breathing exercises and asanas that help your body heal itself and fight stress. Hatha yoga boasts a relaxing effect and balances your emotions.
Vinyasa yoga is dynamic and fast-paced, which helps boost your mood and promotes positive thinking. Kundalini releases your inner energy and increases self-awareness. Restorative yoga helps relax your mind and body by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system. Kripalu puts you in touch with your body and makes you feel empowered.
Without a doubt, yoga is one of the most powerful anxiety and stress relief techniques out there. Its health benefits are well-documented. When practiced regularly, it restores your energy levels, eases mental tension, and tames the stress response. Not to mention that you can practice yoga in the comfort of your home!