5 Ways to Relieve Anxiety With Yoga

Try these 5 yoga practice tips to relieve anxiety naturally…

Yoga is a wonderful form of exercise not just for all of the physical benefits it can provide, but also for its mental component. While all forms of exercise can boost your mood, for me, yoga in particular has the power to uplift me, relax me, and help me release stress and relieve anxiety.

The stress-relief component is one of the main reasons why yoga provides so many benefits – both physical and mental. As we all now know, stress is a major factor in physical illness and disease, as well as mental issues. Relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga are excellent ways to relieve chronic stress when done on a regular basis – and they may help prevent both physical and mental health issues from developing.

That said, keep in mind that yoga is a very individual practice – and the things that stress you out are individual to you as well. Pay attention to how specific poses and practices make you feel, and if you find that there are certain things that feel stressful to you instead of relaxing, adjust your practice accordingly. Do what feels right and good in your yoga practice to gain the most benefits!

Below are 5 specific yoga practices to help relieve anxiety naturally:

1. Lengthen Your Exhalation. Simple breath practices where you lengthen your exhalation (such as pausing briefly at the end of the exhalation) can help head off a panic or anxiety attack. Practiced on a regular basis, breath awareness and simple breath practices can reduce your overall stress levels, helping to reduce anxiety. (See Balancing Your Emotions With Your Breath.)

2. Practice Conscious Relaxation. Although sleep is vital for good health, conscious relaxation provides benefits for anxiety that you cannot get from sleep. During conscious relaxation, there is a marked decrease in blood lactate, a substance associated with anxiety attacks. Blood-lactate levels fall rapidly within the first 10 minutes of conscious relaxation, while sleep has no effect on blood-lactate levels. As you relax, your thoughts stop racing and your mind quiets while your body is resting and digesting… Because anxiety and panic attacks are related to chronic stress, practicing some form of relaxation on a regular basis can help prevent the anxiety and/or panic attacks from occurring in the first place.

3. Exercise Before Relaxing. If you’re too restless to settle down into a relaxing practice or pose, try an active yoga practice, such as standing poses or Sun Salutations (or any other vigorous exercise you prefer) to tire yourself out before practicing conscious relaxation.


4. Practice Restorative Yoga. This form of yoga uses props to support your body and allow your muscles to relax completely. With your muscles completely relaxed, you can then turn your attention inward, focusing on your breath, physical sensations, or any other object of meditation, which allows the relaxation response to switch on. (See Restorative Yoga: An Introduction for more information and options.) You can practice restorative poses both on their own or at the end of a more active practice.

5. Practice Yoga Nidra. Yoga nidra or yogic sleep is a form of guided conscious relaxation, in which a teacher or a recorded voice provides imagery and mental exercises for you to follow as you relax in a comfortable reclined position. Since one hallmark feature of an anxious mind is the tendency to have urgent, repetitive thought patterns full of worry and fear that are hard to turn off, having a voice to guide you can help you turn off your anxious thoughts and start to calm down. (Try these two short guided relaxation tracks…)

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