CAN yoga really blast away feelings of anxiety in 30 seconds? Yes, yes and yes! To be more specific pranayama, yogic breathing techniques can help instantly calm you. Imagine the possibility of instant relaxation when you’re in a difficult situation. Whether you are in a stressful meeting at work, you are nervous about flying, you have just got off of the phone with an angry client, or you are at a dreaded event having to mingle with the types of people you’ve tried to avoid your whole adult life! When you feel that sharp twinge of anxiety bubbling up inside of you, follow my technique to help let go of stress, to feel better and overall more confident.
This article will cover the following:
- Instant anxiety relief: Meditation
- Instant anxiety relief: Yoga
- Tree pose
- Forward bend
- Instant anxiety relief: Pranayama
- Additional extras
Let’s get one thing clear, I’m not here to talk lightly on the topic of anxiety. It is a deep and complex issue many of us live with. Anxiety may dance with some of us fleetingly; invited by external triggers. Whilst others may have a chronic, long-suffering and very internal relationship with this beast.
Its important to mention that we have ultimate control of our thoughts. Anxiety is created from manifested worry and stress. We need to learn to remember to breathe fully, practice mantras and affirmations, as well as incorporating gratitude journalling into our everyday lives. This will help us to feel more lighthearted, fearless and positive!
I’d like to share with you some tips and tricks to help you regulate your emotions in the moment. Should you feel your anxiety is disrupting and disabling your ability to have a happy and peaceful life, please, before you continue reading, pick up the phone to your Doctor and book in to have a chat with them. You owe it to you.
Instant Anxiety Relief: Meditation
Mindfulness is a bit of a buzzword these days but essentially it is about being present and in the moment. Did you know that all these ideas stem from ancient yoga philosophy? You may wonder how being present can help calm feelings of anxiety… Or you may ponder whether the current moment you are focusing on, is even really that nice after all?
To be frank, anxiety appears because of bad experiences in the past or worrying about (perceived or actual) threats in the future. Anxiety should be a friend to us; it’s a biological call to action and works on a very basic level to keep us alive. When you feel anxious, it is your intuition signaling that something doesn’t seem quite right. That sixth sense expects you to analyse the situation and act accordingly. However, when anxiety is present without any real danger, we need to learn ways to control it. We need to learn to sit with it and ultimately to realise we control our anxiety, it does not control us.
Meditation for anxiety: Practice this exercise the next time you feel angst!
To overcome anxiety, it is important to practice healthy habits. You must train your mind to recognize feelings of anxiety and react by practicing a meditation exercise.
The following simple and easy introductory meditation exercise can be practiced whenever you feel angst:
- Focus on any object in front of you.
- Look at it, notice the colour, shape, size, etc.
- Every time your mind wanders, bring it back to the object and the details you see.
- A focused mind is a healthy mind.
An alternative to this exercise is practicing mantras and affirmations. You can read more about that, here.
Instant Anxiety Relief: Yoga
Back to yoga, there is a multitude of ways yoga can help you with anxiety. The most beneficial way is the hardest way, and that is having a consistent and regular yoga, meditation, and pranayama practice.
I’m talking daily, guys! A study at Harvard University found that yoga appears to modulate stress responses in the body. For example, helping regulate heart rate and speed of breath.
Beware though; yoga without balance is another stress trigger. A daily yoga practice must comprise all elements including poses, meditation, and breathing. Too much focus on poses alone can be detrimental to body and mind.
In addition, eating mindfully and taking notice of which emotions are triggered by the different foods you eat will help clean your system from the inside. We are all different, unique and wonderful. Find out what nourishes your body with this quick, simple and easy test.
The following yoga poses are geared towards getting you back to optimum mental fitness. Generally, yoga works its magic by getting you out of your head and back in your body. It stops you overthinking and allows a new focus, your physical body in the present moment. Each pose has been selected specifically for anxiety relief in mind.
Yoga for anxiety 1: Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
Benefits for anxiety relief:
- Tree pose is a great starting point; it requires intense concentration to perfect its delicate balancing act.
- The pose allows you to take a step back from the “monkey mind” by being forced to pay immediate attention, (unless you want to topple over…) so you can start facing life head-on.
- Please seek doctor’s advice before practicing this pose if you have any of the following symptoms: a headache; insomnia; low blood pressure.
- If you suffer from high blood pressure, don’t raise your arms overhead.
Yoga for anxiety 2: Headstand (Salamba Sirsasana)
Don’t be intimidated by headstand if you’re a beginner; it’s easier than you think and there are a ton of modifications available, as well as preparatory poses you can do if you’re not ready to flip just yet.
Benefits for anxiety relief:
- Most inversions are great for anxiety. The combination of blood rushing to the head, as well as a completely new (upside down) angle on life, can help.
- Headstand is especially good for those in a habit of over thinking and the pose will give perspective and clarity.
- Please seek doctor’s advice before practicing this pose if you have any of the following symptoms: back injury; a headache; a heart condition; high blood pressure; menstruation; neck injury.
- If you suffer from low blood pressure, don’t start practice with this pose.
- Pregnancy: If you are experienced with this pose, you can continue to practice it late in pregnancy. However, don’t take up the practice of Sirsasana after you become pregnant.
Yoga for anxiety 3: Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
The beauty of the forward bend is anyone can do it and pretty much at any time. The trick is to hinge at the hips and prevent rounding of the spine as you fall forward.
Benefits for anxiety relief:
- A lot of our stress is held in our jaw, neck, and shoulders. The forward bend allows for a good stretch of the upper body and a much-needed release.
- This pose actually works to massage and relax the nervous system, reducing cortisol levels. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone, it induces a fight response and can have catastrophic effects on the body in high doses.
- Please consult in your doctor’s advice if you have a back injury.
Instant Anxiety Relief: Pranayama
Pranayama is defined as control of breath. Prana is breath or life force. Our ability to bring awareness to our breath has been proven time and again to reconnect us with self-control. Once we control our breath we are closer to controlling our thoughts and our anxiety.
Pranayama for anxiety: Breathing exercise
Anxiety triggers an emergency response in the body. Principally it causes a faster heart rate and shallow and upper chest breathing. Slowing down your breathing with this simple pranayama exercise can quickly trigger a parasympathetic response. This is the equally powerful opposing bodily response that works to promote calm and relaxation.
When you find yourself feeling anxious, take a moment and focus your attention on your breath:
- Start to breathe slowly and deeply making sure your abdomen expands and contracts.
- Focus on breathing in for 3 full seconds.
- Hold your breath in for 3 seconds.
- Breathe out for 5 seconds, making sure you expel air from the belly.
- Repeat slowly as many times as necessary until you feel better.
Please note: You can extend the amount of time you inhale, hold and exhale for. Always make sure your exhale is longer than your inhale. No one will know, except you. Your heart rate will become more controlled and you should feel a little bit more able to cope with the situation you’re in.
Follow the Pinterest board, ‘Mantras for Anxiety,’ for more advice and guidance on combatting anxiety;
This week, I am extremely excited to share with you some further great tools that have come recommended to me to help overcome anxiety. Whether you enjoy reading self-help books, listening to audio books on-the-go or you have children who suffer from panic attacks and anxiety, I have found something to suit each one of you. Check them out below.
250-page life-changing e-book
This e-book is the only holistic system in existence that teaches you how to permanently cure your panic attacks and general anxiety, regain your self-confidence and enjoy life without fear. Let’s face it, we all love a good self-help book! This one comes highly recommended as it walks you through all your emotions, it is almost like the writer is inside of your head! The e-book is called: “Panic Miracle System” and has 250 pages of profound information about the topic of anxiety and how to overcome it once and for all. Please note: This book is only available as a digital download -perfect for you busy lot on the go!
Rapid Relief audio-book
If listening to audio books is more your style, this free book is perfect for you! Barry McDonagh is the most sought after anxiety coach, so much so that he decided to create an audio book to help more sufferers of anxiety and panic attacks. The book is intended to help you gain immediate relief and overcome anxious feelings in seconds. Keep a copy with you on your phone or tablet and take a listen when you feel the panic or anxiety brewing. Download the book here.
Award-winning anxiety relief program for children
If you have children that suffer from worry and anxiety I totally recommend checking out this awesome program designed purely for children. The Anxiety-Free Child Program is an award-winning and comprehensive system designed to quickly help your child overcome the anxious feelings that are holding them back from reaching their potential and show them how to be the secure, confident, and HAPPY kids they were meant to be! There is a free sample of the program you can download here.
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Wishing you a positive and calm life,
P.S. I have suffered from anxiety in my mid-20’s. Yoga and meditation has really helped me overcome these feelings. It wasn’t until I realised what it was and how to control it that I was able to overcome anxiety.