The number of people who practice yoga in the United States is expected to surpass the staggering number of 50 million people. This represents a big growth when we compare it to 2015 when there were 36.7 million practitioners.
But why do people practice yoga? Well, speak to anyone who does and they’ll certainly let you know about all the ways it has improved their wellbeing.
Some of those people will mention the benefits of yoga for anxiety, and that’s exactly what we’ll be speaking about in this article.
1. It Helps You Relax
When your anxiety starts to build up, your body tends to tense up. If you’ve ever felt tightness in your shoulders or neck when you were feeling nervous about something, you know what we’re talking about.
Through the combination of various poses with breathing techniques and meditation exercises, yoga can help you release the tension.
Put some soothing music on and light up an incense stick, and you’ll reach even deeper levels of tranquility.
By relaxing your body and muscles, yoga will also end up promoting the relaxation of your mind.
2. It Teaches You Breathing Techniques
One of the biggest secrets to calming yourself down when anxiety seems to take over your whole body and mind is to practice breathing exercises.
Here’s why: when you breathe mindfully, your whole body responds in a way that translates into a calmer state overall.
Your blood flow increases, your metabolism decreases, your brain gets more oxygen, and your muscles relax. The combination of all that and more efficiently fights anxiety.
Yoga can help you with this because breathing is a big part of any pose. In fact, if you attend a yoga class, or even if you look up a tutorial online, you’ll see that the instructor will keep reminding you of being aware of your breathing cycles.
3. It Promotes Self-Confidence
Oh, the joy of improving at yoga and being able to do increasingly difficult poses!
Truthfully, this benefit can be said about many other long-term hobbies, which is good news if you haven’t fallen in love with yoga yet.
But it should be said that it’s quite clear to notice your progress as a yogi and that’s one of the best ways of keeping your motivation up and feeling good about yourself.
Do keep in mind that you should start with poses according to how (in)experienced you are at yoga. If you’ve never been on a yoga mat before and you go straight to the advanced asanas, you won’t see as much progress. That will make it less likely that you’ll want to keep practicing.
4. It Helps Control Worry Cycles
For some people, anxiety has peaks, where all the stress builds up and they cannot think of anything else but whatever’s making them nervous. And we know how hard it can be to break that type of thinking cycle.
By scheduling a part of your day to do yoga, you make sure that you always have at least 15 minutes when you’ll be focused on something else.
At first, it might be difficult to dedicate yourself fully to the yoga practice. But with time, and maybe without even noticing, you’ll start to focus more on your physical body and drift away from your mind and everything that’s bothering you.
5. It Teaches You Meditation Techniques
Some people practice yoga solely for the physical benefits, to stay fit and lean. But there’s no denying that there is a strong spiritual and meditative aspect to this practice.
Meditating for as little as 15 minutes a day can help you fight anxiety.
In fact, meditation started being used for this purpose in the 70s, when Herbert Benson introduced the concept of “relaxation response“. This is defined as a method to counteract the physical effects of anxiety through deep relaxation.
So add techniques like the relaxation response to your yoga practice and you’ll start to notice a shift in your state of mind.
6. It Can Help You Meet Like-Minded People
Two things that can help you beat anxiety are having a good support system and maintaining a healthy social life.
If you decide to sign up for classes at a gym or yoga studio, you’ll meet new people who might end up becoming some of your closest friends. Plus, you might even meet people who started doing yoga for the same reason as you, which will make you feel less alone in your struggle.
Yoga for Anxiety: 3 Best Poses
There is an endless amount of asanas – or yoga poses – you can choose from depending on what your goal is.
For anxiety, our suggestion is that you try these three:
- Child’s Pose. This pose helps release tension from your upper body and it makes you feel safe and, consequently, calmer.
- Cat-cow Pose. This pose instructs you to put your legs up a wall, which will promote blood flow, which means more oxygen in your body and a calmer nervous system.
- Corpse Pose. This is most likely the easiest pose in terms of physical ability. Mentally, however, it can be difficult, as the goal is to relax and let go completely.
A Healthy Body & a Healthy Mind
Practicing yoga will undoubtedly bring benefits into your life, whether they’re physical, mental, or both.
Even if your anxiety is mild, or if you believe you’re just going through a rough patch but that it’ll soon be over, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t give it a go. After all, you deserve to take time for your own wellbeing, and practicing yoga for anxiety is the perfect way of doing so.
If you want to learn more about yoga or other wellness techniques, you can always send us a message!