Guest post by Meera Watts. Photo credit: Jared Rice on Unsplash
Anxiety is terrible.
It can affect your sleep, concentration, and even the way you spend time with family and friends. It can take away your joy, enthusiasm, and optimism.
And you know what's worse?
Getting over and treating anxiety is a lot more terrible. You'll have to go to several sessions with your doctor and be advised to take medicines for weeks and even months.
The good news is that there's a cheaper, more effective, and more natural way of beating anxiety and that is yoga.
Now, how exactly does that work? Here are some of the ways yoga can help ease anxiety.
1. Yoga makes you feel more relaxed
When you are anxious, your body experiences high levels of stress. Your body constricts and your shoulders, neck, jaws, and the muscles on the rest of your body feel tense. That tension can make both your mind and your body uneasy.
When you do yoga, it lowers the physical tension you're experiencing. Practicing yoga, in turn, loosens the grip anxiety has on you.
Apart from those things, yoga can also lower your heart rate and blood pressure which tend to be elevated when you're under stress.
In doing those poses, remember that every person experiences yoga differently. As much as possible, don’t compare your progress with others, particularly if you are just starting out. Doing so will only make things worse. Comparison can negatively affect your practice, focus, and self-esteem which can make you feel anxious.
2. Yoga teaches you to live in the present
When you are anxious, you worry about everything- even those things that are yet to happen. This can easily take away your ability to enjoy what's happening in your present situation.
With yoga, you'll be able to focus and pay attention to each pose that you do. You'll learn how to bring your whole attention to the present. And the more you practice it and enhance that ability, the more you'll be able to apply it to the other areas of your life.
Now, take note that this isn't something you can experience overnight. You can't practice yoga and expect to dramatically change your perspective right away. It can take time but the more frequent you put it into practice, the faster the changes can happen.
To begin learning how to focus on the present, there are few poses you can start with: one is Mountain Pose. With your feet put together, it will teach you how to remain grounded to the earth.
3. Yoga helps you face your fears
As humans, it's normal for us to feel threatened and fearful of things that we feel will harm us or compromise our safety. However, if you want to completely get over your anxiety, you need to fight against the fears and doubts that can hinder you.
One of the best ways to do that is to notice how your thoughts, including the fearful ones, will come and go. By learning how to recognize them, you'll feel a boost in your self-esteem which can inspire you to take on the challenges in your life head-on.
But, remember to take things slowly and recognize your feelings. That's the only way you'll be able to transform and change.
In practicing yoga, it’s not just the poses that are important. You also have to pay close attention to how you’re breathing.
Remember, the way you're breathing can affect how your nervous system behaves. For example, if you take rapid, shallow breaths, you make your nervous system a lot more active. If you deepen and slow down your breathing, you'll soothe your nervous system.
Yoga, when done regularly, can be a powerful tool in getting rid of anxiety and overcoming the things that are making you feel anxious. It won’t just strengthen you mentally but it can also calm your nerves and relax your body whenever you feel the signs of anxiety creeping up.
> Search for yoga classes for anxiety.
Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of SiddhiYoga.com, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in India (Rishikesh, Goa and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali)