Anxiety is normal. But in the recent past anxiety has been classified as a “negative” word, even synonymous to a mental disorder. It has become rampant amongst the modern population. Yoga for anxiety treatment has been very effective. This article acts as a guide to use yoga for anxiety relief. But before we go any further let us try to understand this phenomenon called anxiety.
What is Anxiety?
Our brain has an inbuilt, ‘Fight-Flight’ response mechanism also called the “adrenaline response”. This mechanism exists so that we can protect ourselves from danger. When we feel danger, or think that danger is about to occur, the brain sends a message to the nervous system, which responds by releasing adrenaline. Increased adrenaline causes us to feel alert and energetic, and gives us a spurt of strength, preparing us to attack (fight) or escape to safety (flight). This state of the body is called an anxious state.
This response mechanism of our body is essential and important in situations of danger as it helps the human being cope better with the situation. For example, imagine being in a fist fight or being chased by a dog, or being in a vehicular accident. An immediate “fight or flight” response is essential. But anxiety becomes a problem only when it is persistent.
Anxiety attack symptoms
The six main categories of anxiety disorders are phobias, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, acute stress disorder and post traumatic stress disorder (American Psychiatric Association [apa], 2000).
But the symptoms of anxiety, regardless of the category, are similar. The symptoms can be classified into physical and psychological symptoms of anxiety.
- Tense muscles and headaches
- Feeling light headed or dizzy
- Faster breathing
- Sweating too much
- Irregular heart beat
- Raised blood pressure
- Needing the toilet more frequently, or less frequently
- Churning in the pit of your stomach
- Feeling tense, nervous and on edge
- Fearing the worst
- Feeling over conscious in a crowd
- Low Concentration
Yoga for Anxiety
Overcoming anxiety becomes essential when everyday activities start making one anxious. Anxiety management can be done effectively through regular Yoga practice. Relaxing Yoga poses are very effective to relieve anxiety. Chronic anxiety takes a tremendous toll on the body, draining energy resources and keeping the body in a constant state of stress. Yoga is a natural way to overcome deep rooted fears. It calms the nervous system, lowers heart rate, eases the mind and also helps to slow down the breath.
A study by International Journal of Science and Research showed significantly reduced level of stress and anxiety in 35 working women between the ages of 25-40.
Yoga helps to relieve tension in the muscles by the use of dynamic stretching poses. Specialized practices help to work on lowering the blood pressure and bringing down heart rate to normal levels. The body is thus calmed and stabilized through the practice of yoga. Pranayama practices, which manipulate the breath help to reduce anxiety further. Practices like Anulom – Vilom, Bhramari, Om chanting, followed by meditation on a regular basis are natural anxiety remedies.
Yoga practices for Anxiety
Yoga provides anxiety cures through various Asanas listed below:
- Yoga Mudra
These are a few practices which stretch muscles out, improve circulatory function and serve as an efficient anxiety help.
Overcoming anxiety is further aided, when the practice of these yoga asanas for anxiety are coupled with pranayamas or breathing techniques to reduce anxiety.
- AnulomaViloma (Alternate nostril breathing)
Yoga serves as an effective measure to reduce anxiety. But it is essential, especially for new practitioner to learn under proper guidance of an experienced teacher.
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