By Jenny Park
Are there any Yoga poses to relieve anxiety? This is a common question instructors answer every week. Anxiety is a state of agitation and hyper-arousal that is fueled by adrenalin and cortisol. When in a crisis situation, an extra shot of adrenalin can be incredibly helpful. It may assist you in the landing that big deal you have been chasing, finishing a challenging 10k race or saving somebody from a dangerous situation. Unfortunately, when adrenalin and cortisol continue to circulate throughout the body from constant daily stress, these otherwise life-saving hormones can degrade the health of both the body and mind.
Yin Yoga focuses on soothing, grounding, restorative Yoga asanas that turn off the overdrive switch. The long, supported holds in Yin Yoga help the body and mind to relax and release tension, both mentally and physically. Specific Yin Yoga poses to relieve anxiety will aim at increasing flexibility throughout all of the connective tissues of the body. The long holds in Yin Yoga create a gentle traction and compression that helps to flush out toxins and lubricate the joints while releasing tension in the surrounding connective tissues.
A regular practice of Yin Yoga will complement a more active “Yang Yoga” practice such as Power Yoga or Bikram Yoga. Over time, your level of flexibility and joint mobility will increase allowing for ease of movement and an overall sense of well-being. When we feel held and supported, anxiety begins to ebb. In Yin Yoga, many asanas may be practiced in a supported fashion with block and bolsters in order to create a sense of being supported and nourished.
An anxiety attack is often evidenced in the body by shallow breathing. Yin Yoga postures that open up the heart area will allow your breathing to become unrestricted. Practicing Fish Pose in a supported fashion will open up the entire upper torso including the throat area. Practicing Supported Wide Angle Pose will help you to ground, feel nurtured and aid in pratyahara or the withdrawal of the senses from the outside world, giving you a break from seeking solace or stimulation outside of yourself for a period of time.
Supported Wide Angle Pose
To practice Supported Wide Angle Pose, sit comfortably on your Yoga mat. Take one complete Yogic breath. On your next exhale, extend your legs and open them in a comfortable “V” formation. Place a Yoga block on floor in front of you so that your forehead can rest comfortably on the block. Adjust the height of the block depending on your level of flexibility. Inhale and as you exhale, bend forward resting your forehead on the block. Place your hands on your knees, shins or ankles. Hold this posture for three to five minutes while breathing deeply. Finish practicing Supported Wide Angle Pose by slowly returning to Easy Seat and pausing for a few moments to feel the reverberation of energy throughout your entire being. Specific Yoga poses to relieve anxiety exist within the Yin and Restorative styles.
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