The benefits of the physical practice of yoga on the mind, body, and spirit are countless. This blog post is dedicated to the top 3 ways that I have found through my experience as a yoga practitioner and teacher that support anxiety. Let's countdown from 3!
3. When you invert your body, you experience an increase in blood circulation to your brain, which aids in relief from anxiety.
Sanskrit: Viparita Karani
viparita = turned around, reversed; inverted karani = doing, making, action
Have you ever felt really nervous, mind-racing, unable to sleep, headache? Do you experience panic attacks?
When experiencing an overwhelming amount of emotions, or a panic attack, doing this pose for just 5 minutes is said proven to have calming effects. I can tell you from personal experience as a practitioner and teacher of yoga this pose does wonders for the mind, body, and soul. Here's the key, with all yoga, the first step is to BREATHE. How to best experience this pose? Lie flat on your back and extend your feet up to the sky. Feel free to prop your legs against a wall or let them float gently over your hips. Option to use a blanket under your low back / tailbone for support. Focus on your breath and work to equalize your exhale to your inhale to a long and slow rhythm. Try counting to 4 as you inhale, then count to 4 as you exhale. Then 5. Then 6. Find the count that works for you and continue this rhythm for 1-5-10 minutes until you feel a release of tension.
2. Child's Pose can stimulate your central nervous system, which can help you in reducing symptoms of anxiety.
Child's Pose Sanskrit: Balasana bala: “child” | asana: “pose”
Balasana is excellent for rejuvenating your central nervous system. Your central nervious system controls most functions of your body and mind. An article from NIH states, "It consists of two parts: the brain and the spinal cord. The brain is the center of our thoughts, the interpreter of our external environment, and the origin of control over body movement."
Child's Pose relaxes all of your muscles surrounding the vertebrae of your spine, freeing up your nerves to communicate with your brain more effectively. When your head rests below your heart in any pose, it allows more blood flow into your brain, creating a calming and soothing effect on your mind. I will continue to emphasize with all yoga postures, there is no yoga without your concentrated or conscious breathing. This pose can help you to breathe more deeply, by creating a more relaxed space in your spine/back to breathe into. Not to mention the fact that when you close your eyes, you allow yourself to truly feel what is happening within your body in its present moment. When you try this pose, take the time to focus on the sound of your breath, this will allow you to notice it's rhythm and connect deeper within. When experiencing anxiety symptoms, you may notice that your breath is choppy or short. Try this pose to calm down by taking conscious slow + deep breaths in and out. Then start to notice where the breath goes naturally in your body. (The belly, the ribs, the back or the chest). As you notice, continue to breathe and allow your mind to focus, and then as your focus may wander, re-focus on the sound of your breath. You can always begin, again.
1. Yoga as physical exercise is said to improve mood due to increased levels of the brain chemical GABA.
Three Legged Downward Facing Dog Pose Scorpion Leg
Sanskrit: Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana Vrschikasana Pada
tri = three; pada = foot; mukha = face downward; scorpion pose
What does this mean? Lucky you, I love all things about the brain and how it operates and its impact on our way of being so I am going to break this down for you. GABA gamma-aminobutyric, is a brain chemical that blocks certain communication between nerve cells in the brain. Researchers say GABA may make you calm or boost your mood. Low levels of GABA have been linked to anxiety, depression, other mood disorders and chronic pain according to an article in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. The communication that GABA provides as a carrier in our brain impacts our mood and even motor control. When you experience low levels of GABA the communication within your brain is not being received properly. These low levels are impacted by a number of things, from diet to lack of exercise. By practicing yoga you are able to support the communication within your brain, allowing you to literally calm yourself through focused breathing and movement. Plus, did you know that the brain's GABA levels are higher after practicing yoga? Higher GABA levels are associated with lower levels of depression and anxiety. To simply put it, just 20 minutes of yoga a day can start changing your brain chemistry and improving your mood. #changinggenerationalpatterns #mentalhealthmatters #yogaforhealth #breathe #anxietyrelief
I hope this blog topic supports you or a loved one in some way. It is important more now than ever that you put your self-care first. You cannot be good to anyone else if you are not good to yourself first, and you deserve that love.
Peace + Healing