Anxiety is usually caused by an excess in thoughts. Try these 5 Yoga exercises to have more peace of mind.
Although we already experienced many turbulent times throughout our history as a human species, few were as hyperconnected, lived-streamed and overall so pervasive as today.
Our current state and social, many times even professional demand to be on a constant state of connectivity comes at a high price: the disconnection with the inner self and the anxiety which we are left with.
Yoga to me has been and is my anchor to balance this out and to remind myself to stay grounded and connected with whats important to me. It also proved time and again to help me reduce anxiety, and because many of you out there might need it, here are my 5 recommended Yoga exercises for Anxiety:
1. Start by discovering the power of intention: Sankalpa (or intention) is another integral part of the practise. As simple as it sounds it is still very powerful. Before you try any of the other exercises below just think for yourself innerly and repeat mentally three times an intention related to your anxiety relief, formulated in a positive way. These are a few examples: ‘I will feel at ease’ ‘I welcome inner peace’ or ‘I am the driver of my mind and I decide where it goes’.
2. Breathe: Yoga is not only about the physical posture but a lot more. In his Sutras, Patanjali -one of the main historical exponents in Yoga as we know it today- puts it in the words ’yoga chitta vritti nirodha’: Yoga as a method to bring the movements of the -conscious and unconscious- states of mind to a stop. Breathing, and the conscious control of the breath is an important limb of Yoga and proven tremendously helpful to reduce anxiety.
3. Practise relaxing Asanas: Go into Balasana or Paschimottanasana.
Balasana, also known as the child's pose is an asana frequently used to balance other more energising and activating Asana. It is the Asana where you sit on your knees and rest your head on the ground, happy and thankful that the hard sweat inducing work is over.
Just as Balasana, Paschimottanasana or the forward bend is a relaxing pose. Different to Balasana in this Asana -or pose- you are working and stretching your muscles more actively, so besides relaxing you and bringing you into a more peaceful state of mind, this helps you improve your flexibility. For this Asana remember to sit on your sitting bones and to bend down from your lower back and not from your upper back or chest. If this is the first or only Asana you are doing make sure to warm up before. Another hint to ensure your alignment is correct: you should be feeling your stretch on your back and not on the lower side of your legs. If you feel it on your legs you may want to either bend your legs a bit or sit on a cushion, which will aid you in bending lower and gaining more flexibility and length.
4. Chant Mantras: Have you ever wondered why some Yoga practises start with -for some- ‘weird chants’ or intonations? Chanting Mantras is usually known as a part of Bhakti Yoga, or Yoga of devotion. There are, however, other less ‘religious’ mantras. One of the most famous, for instance, ‘Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti’ makes reference to Om -the primal and first sound, sound of the Universe- and ‘Shanti’ which literally means peace. The interpretations however, can be that it is a Mantra to bring peace to the mind, heart and body or to the person, the community, the entire universe. Beyond its spiritual background, nowadays there is even scientific support for the use of Mantras to reduce anxiety. Mantras are repetitive sounds which serve similarly like a ‘magic formulas’, they create a vibration and a state of mind which help us stop thinking. As you may know -if you are affected by it- anxiety its all about overthinking.
5. Lay down and relax: Shavasana: the corpse. Finally we’re there, at many yogis’ favourite Asana. This Asana its best enjoyed after a previous practise. However, whenever you feel like, you may also jump directly into it and guide yourself into a conscious state of relaxation. To do this, its recommendable to start with a body scan: to consciously relax each part of your body, starting from feet to head or the other way around but taking notice of each part and relaxing it. When your mind is focused on activating your body, it has a task other than worrying (about the future or the past or anything that may be troubling you). After relaxing your body and depending on how much time you have, try to spend at least a few minutes just observing your breath in silence. It is not necessary or required to force the breath, just observe it and if the mind wanders around and you think about something else, try to bring it back -always softly and with care- to the breath. After a few minutes in silence, come back to your body and to the present moment.
I dealt and sometimes deal with anxiety myself, so I know from my own experience the -many times even physical pain- it brings with it. I sincerely hope you give some of these exercises a try and that you are able to find more peace with yourself. If you found these tips helpful, follow me at @orneamichettiq on Instagram. My practise and all the techniques I share are related and aimed at releasing anxiety and negative energy blocks from your mind, heart and body.