7 Best Yoga Poses for Anxiety
By Kim Bassan, Pretzel Kids contributing writer
If you’re feeling stressed out and anxious, you’re not alone. Life can be hard sometimes.
In fact, according to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million people over 18 each year, or 18.1% of the United States population.
Anxiety can be caused by many life stressors that occur at work or in your relationships. It can also be a result of poor sleep or eating habits, and many other factors. When you couple regular life stressors with a global pandemic, it only serves to magnify anxiety levels.
The good news is: there are ways to cope with anxiety and reduce stress!
And, while yoga may not be the cure all, practicing yoga can certainly help ease anxiety. So, we’ve put together a sneak peek into the 7 best yoga poses for anxiety.
But before we begin…
Can Yoga Help with Anxiety?
Once again, the answer is loud and clear, YES!
According to Mayo Clinic, yoga can help to relieve anxiety and elevate your mood. And, the practice of yoga combined with mindfulness and meditation has been proven to help ease stress.
Better yet, everyone can use this magical tool! Yoga poses for stress reduction can not only help improve the mental health of adults but it can also help reduce anxiety for kids!
How Can Yoga Poses for Anxiety Reduce Stress?
The practice of yoga helps to calm the nervous system and relax tension in the body.
Mayo Clinic research has found that combining asana, breathing techniques for anxiety, and meditation can help reduce stress, lower heart rate and reduce risk factors for chronic conditions like heart disease, depression and anxiety.
What are the Best Yoga Poses for Anxiety?
You don’t need 60 minutes of a yoga class in order to get the benefits of asana. You can start with some simple yoga poses for anxiety. Here are our top picks:
1. Downward-Facing Dog
Downward-facing dog is one of the most popular yoga poses but it’s also one of the most beneficial. If you are feeling stressed out then don’t miss out on this one!
- Full body stretch
- Strengthens the arms and legs
- Relieves stress and anxiety
2. Pigeon Pose
Who doesn’t like a good pigeon pose? There’s a common belief in yoga that we lock a lot of our emotions and anger in our hips. Our energetic body accumulates this stress and therefore it manifests with lower mood and anxiety. So, do yourself a favor and finish your day with a reclined pigeon pose.
- Opens the hips
- Reduces pressure on the sciatic nerve
- Helps to reduce stress
3. Child’s Pose
This pose is like a cup of warm tea for your heart. In a child’s pose, you can allow your hips to sink towards your heels and let go of everything that is weighing you down. Go ahead: Cultivate compassion and empathy for the child in you!
- Stretches the hips and thighs
- Relieves back pain
- Reduce stress and anxiety
4. Legs Up The Wall
Are you tired of ending your days with swollen feet? Treat your sore legs with this juicy yoga pose! You spend so much of your time standing on your legs, so why not give your legs a break and feel the support from the wall.
This pose is a great finisher for a long, stressful day. Rest your legs up against a wall and completely let go; gravity will take control and allow the blood to flow from your feet to your heart and organs.
- Relaxes tension in the neck and shoulders
- Soothes the nervous system
- Releases tension in the quadriceps
- Helps you go to sleep
5. Shoulderstand and Plow
We spend most of our days with our hearts below our feet. Do yourself a favor and reverse this by doing a shoulderstand or plow pose. This will help your heart pump more blood towards your vital organs and brain. Plus, it’s always nice to see the world from a different point of view!
- Back, neck and shoulder stretch
- Stimulates the thyroid gland
- Promotes healthy blood flow
6. Reclining Bound Angle
There’s nothing better than a good hip opening pose. Reclining bound angle pose is all about openness!
Open your heart, chest, and hips. Feel your body letting go of anxiety and stress. If you need to cultivate nurturing energy in your life, then place your hands on your belly and feel how it rises and falls with every breath.
- Builds inner thigh and groin flexibility
- Opens the hips and pelvis
- Helps you relax
Rest and restore. It’s time for you to relax the body and find your final pose, sweet savasana! We spend the majority of our days working and hustling, so this is your time to take a moment for yourself and unwind, let go, and surrender.
- Lower blood pressure
- Releases anxiety and tension
- Helps with insomnia
- Restores and energizes the body
Extra tip: Practice meditation and mindfulness
Yoga is an incredible tool to reduce anxiety but if you need an extra boost to live a life free from stress, then try incorporating meditation and mindfulness into your yoga practice.
There are many styles of meditation and you just need to choose what type is best for you. You can start with simple breathing techniques or mindfulness exercises.
How to Live a Stress-Free Life
Living a stress-free life can actually happen if you have the right tools to combat anxiety when it hits you.
In fact, if you want to help others learn how to better manage their stress and anxiety, you may want to become a registered kids yoga teacher. This will not only enable you to help children, but you’ll also gain a great side hustle!
Kim Bassan is a content writer at Pretzel Kids. She’s also a yoga teacher and a communication and publishing student at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. Kim is originally from Israel but moved to Canada with her family and little puppy Moana. In her free time, she’s busy hiking or doing downward-facing dog with Moana!