How Does Yoga Help Anxiety?

By Melody Smith, BA

Anxiety is a natural response to stressful situations, but chronic anxiety can disrupt the quality of your day-to-day life. The problem may be intensified by worrying about what to do about the anxiety rather than the anxiety itself.

Fortunately, there is a way to cope with anxiety that can be used in conjunction with traditional treatments of therapy and medication or as a standalone technique—yoga.

Yoga encompasses many elements used in current treatments such as relaxation techniques, mindfulness, cognitive reframing, behavioral suggestions, concentration, and stress reduction. Individuals discover how to relax from physical tension as they move through each posture, or asana. A yoga practice also includes breathing techniques to lower stress in the physical body and sends a message to the brain to promote a state of calmness. Basic movements and relaxation techniques support short-term anxiety reduction, allowing you to fully engage with other healing practices. This safe and inexpensive modality can also be used as a long-term outlet for managing anxiety.

Simply increasing this awareness can decrease the frequency and severity of your anxious symptoms. For example, when your stress response is triggered, you may notice short, shallow breathing. This can heighten overall feelings of anxiety due to lowered oxygen levels in the blood. The practice of yoga can replace this reaction to stress by teaching you to take deep, slow breaths.

With practice, yoga enhances mind-body awareness and offers forms of relaxation that can be used as a healthy outlet. Techniques learned on the mat give individuals tools to use off the mat that can significantly support anxiety management. By combining yoga and therapeutic practices, you can obtain support for effective anxiety management and acquire the peace and serenity needed to move forward.

There are many online resources including videos and websites to help you get started at home. Here is one of my favorites–Gentle Yoga Flow:

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