Anxiousness is all about being uneasy and nervous most of the time. When you are anxious, you feel fearful and tense. You might also show symptoms like –
– A fast heart rate
– Nausea and shaking
– Dry mouth and chest pain
These physical symptoms are caused by the brain which sends a lot of messages down nerves to various parts of the body when you are anxious. The nerve messages tend to make the heart, lungs, and other parts of the body work faster. In addition, you release stress hormones such as adrenaline, into the bloodstream when you are anxious, as a result of which, your body shows similar symptoms.
Anxiety is the most common mental illness in India, affecting roughly 25 per cent of the population. Practising yoga is not only an effective stress reliever, but also a way to ease symptoms of anxiety. By transferring focus and attention to body and breathing, yoga can help to control anxiety while also releasing physical tension.
Yoga is a practice, not a competition, so start slow and proceed with caution. Yoga when done right, gives miraculous results, but since it is all about bending your body, taking it for granted can also cause serious injuries. So listen to your body and try not to push further than feels good. The below yoga poses are arranged in a sequence for beginners; remember to keep all your focus on your body and your breathing while doing any of the poses. Closing your eyes might be very helpful for increasing focus and providing a relaxing state of meditation.
Anjali Mudra (Namaste Positioned Meditation)
Practising Anjali Mudra is an excellent way to induce a meditative state of awareness. It is performed by joining the palms of our hands in a Namaste position and placing them at the centre of our chest (near the heart chakra). This represents the balance and harmony between the right and left side, united in our centre. This balance is not only physical but also mental and emotional, and the idea is to bring us to the centre to prepare ourselves for meditation and contemplation. Start this yoga sequence by practising this mudra while seated in a comfortable cross-legged position with your eyes closed.
Sukhasana (Easy Pose)
For beginners, one can sit with their back straight against the wall. Fold a thick blanket into firm support about six inches high. Sit on one edge of the support and stretch out your legs in front of you on the floor. Now cross-fold and flex your legs in a way that your feet at exactly below the knees of the opposite legs. Stretch your back straight (careful not to arch your back too much) and place your hands on your knees. Keep your focus on your breath and sit in this position for at least 60 seconds.
Practising Sukhasana once every day helps in achieving inner calm and tranquillity. It serves great benefits like opening up your hips, lengthens up your spine and helps in eliminating anxiety, thereby relieving you of physical and mental exhaustion.
Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)
Paschimottanasana helps to unwind a distracted mind. Sit on your buttocks and stretch out your legs in front of you. Keep the feet flexed and lower your forehead towards your knees. Seated Forward Bend is a basic yet challenging pose that relieves stress and anxiety. As additional benefits, it stretches the hamstrings, spine, lower back, improves digestion, relieves symptoms of PMS and menopause, and reduces fatigue. (not exact but similar to the picture below)
Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-Knee Forward Bend)
This pose is a spinal twist and is appropriate for all levels of yoga practitioners. This pose can be done with both arms reaching forward for the stretched out foot, or by rotating your torso sideways and extending the outer arm over the head. This pose is responsible for calming the brain, relieve mild depression and anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, headache and menstrual cramps. This pose is also great for stretching.
Baddha Konasana (Butterfly Pose)
Sit on your buttocks and stretch your legs out. Breathe out, and pull your heels towards your pelvis. Press the soles of your feet close together and let your knees drop to the sides. This pose greatly helps in enhancing the functioning of the reproductive system of women. It improves overall blood circulation, relieves stress, reduces fatigue and improves posture. It also helps to cure asthma, flat feet and blood pressure.
Balasana (Child’s Pose)
Sit on the floor folding your legs so that your shins and big toes are flat on the floor and you are sitting on your calves and heels. Now stretch out your hands and bend forward, your torso between your thighs and your hands lying flat in front of you and your forehead is touching the ground from between your hands.
This asana not only helps in relieving stress and anxiety but also releases tension in back, chest and shoulders. It helps in lengthening and stretching the spine, flex internal organs of the body and stretch hip, ankles and thighs.
Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
This pose is excellent for stretching of all the body parts and is great for increasing core strength. It strengthens thighs and calve muscles and relieves tension from your back, spine and neck. It improves digestion and aids in anxiety, depression and fatigue.
Stand straight, exhale, and bend your upper body forwards from your hip area, drawing your belly slightly in and focus on lengthening your front torso. Keep your knees straight and place your fingertips or palms on either side of your feet or place them on the back of your ankles. To get best results, try to touch your feet flat on the ground or lengthen your torso more trying to touch your nose to your knees/thighs.
Vrikshasana (Tree Pose)
Stand tall, bend your right knee and place your right foot up as high as you can on the side of the left thigh. Make sure your left leg is straight and maintain balance. Take a deep breath and slowly raise both your hands from your sides up above your heads and join them in a Namaste mudra. Keep your eyes open and gaze into the distance to maintain your balance. This pose brings balance and equilibrium to your mind and improves concentration, and also helps in sciatica.
Standing on your head in proper alignment calms the brain and strengthens the body. Headstand can help ease anxiety by reversing the blood flow and forcing you to focus on the breath and the body. This pose also gives the heart a rest by saving it from pumping blood back up from your lower body, as it has to do when you are standing.
Beginners can practice this pose against the support of a wall. Make sure the weight is resting on your forearms and shoulders rather than your head and neck. Proper alignment in this pose would allow a piece of paper to slip through your head and the mat.
Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
Savasana is a pose of total relaxation, making it one of the most challenging asanas. This posture brings a deep, meditative posture of rest, which helps in repairing of tissues and cells, and releases stress. It helps reduce blood pressure, anxiety and insomnia. It gives time for the yoga workout to seep into a deeper level in the body.
Lie on your back with your eyes closed, arms by your sides and palms facing up. Allow your ankles to fall outward. Allow your body to melt deeper into the mat with each breath. Stay in this pose for a minimum of 5 minutes.
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