How to Decrease Anxiety With Yoga

Anxiety is a physical reaction to an external event that has not happened yet. Anxiety is not the enemy society makes it out to be, it is the way your body is communicating with you and trying to keep you safe. Let us take a deeper look into anxiety.

Anxiety presents itself in different ways, this can be elevated breathing, tension in your shoulders, back, jaw, neck, feet, hands, stomach and more, it can be racing thoughts, indigestion and so much more. When you are experiencing anxiety, it is helpful to write down all the things you experience as your first step to helping you learn how to address these reactions. This information will help guide you to what things will help you with these feelings.

After you know how your unique body experiences anxiety you can start with addressing the way you talk about anxiety. We tend to say things like ‘I am an anxious person’ and ‘I have anxious thoughts’; both of these phrases give the anxiety control over you. Our words are extremely important especially the words we use in our inner dialogue. If you change the phrase to, ‘I am experiencing anxious thought/feelings’ this gives you the power and control over your anxiety. This small change may seem insignificant but mentally this will change how your body responds. When you give yourself the power and not the action the power you can begin to change the way your body responds.

Having positive self-talk and giving yourself the power, you can begin to add in things like breathing techniques and mindful movement to help you release these emotions. At the first sign of anxiety, begin to do box breathing; breathe into a count of 5, hold your breath for a count of 5, let the air out to a count of 5, and hold your lungs empty for a count of 5, and repeat this for two minutes. By controlling your breathing, you are sending a signal to the brain that you are safe, and it is ok to relax. Anxiety is a fight or flight response so letting your body know that you are safe is a great start. While you breathe you can repeat a confidence boosting thought in your mind such as I am safe, I am loved, I am relaxed. Paring controlled breathing and positive affirmation is a wonderful combination for creating a new pattern to anxiety.

Mindful movements are also great. These are just movements done with intention and purpose. Let’s say you have a big day presenting or an interview, you can take 10 minutes before the event and do your box breathing, then do a few mindful movements to reinforce the breathing:

  1. Stand with your feet wide apart like a jumping jack, place your hands on your hips, squeeze your shoulder blades and puff your chest up, you should look like a superhero. While holding this pose say positive affirmations like I am strong, I am confident, I can handle anything life throws at me, anything that makes you feel strong. Stand like this and repeat these thoughts out loud or in your mind for 2 minutes.
  2. Change your view literally. After your breathing exercise do a forward fold. Take an inhale and lift your arms over your head and as you exhale bend at the waist and reach your hand towards your feet. Hang here in this forward fold while you take 10 deep slow inhales and exhales. Either close your eyes or keep them open. This change of head under heart will not only relax you but changes your brain chemistry to help relax you.
  3. Do ten jumping jacks, if your anxiety makes you feel like you have so much energy rushing through your body give it an outlet. Jumping jacks are a great way to release energy though the whole body. This not only lets energy out but new oxygen in. Breathe deep while doing these exercises and say a positive affirmation to yourself.
  4. If you begin to feel anxious while at the event/meeting, control your breathing, inhale to a count of 4 and exhale to count of four you can use your hands to count under the table if that helps. This a technique that no one will see so you won’t feel silly, and it is highly effective. You can also do this while tapping a foot or squeezing and releasing your hands.

Doing yoga at least 3x a week will as part of your wellness routine will also greatly reduce your anxiety overall. This is because yoga is one breath one movement practice that is meant to help your body learn how to work through hard emotions and create a positive feel in the body. Yoga is a practice and the techniques we learn on your mat are techniques we use off our mats too. The practice of yoga is to learn how to listen to the body and work with it right where it is, not to wish change on it but to accept it and learn what it is trying to tell us and how to work with those signs and signals. It’s a perfect balance in the  tug and pull of life to help keep us always neutral.

Anxiety is part of us so it will never be gone but you can use the techniques that we have discussed here to learn how to manage and work through your anxiety so that it does not control your life but it’s just an emotion that you are processing. Always give yourself grace and space to process your emotions in a healing on the spot matter so you don’t get to the point of being overwhelmed.

Love, Light, and Wellness

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