Yoga Poses for Anxiety and Stress

1.  Mountain Pose (Tadasana): seated

Mountain Pose will immediately ground you and reconnect you with your center. It is strengthening, calming, balancing, and empowering. It energizes the body, opens the chest fully, improves lung inspiration capacity, removes stiffness in the shoulder blades and stretches the spine.

2. Forward Fold (Utanasana): Using a Chair

Forward-bending postures induce relaxation as it promotes chest compression with exhalation. In addition, it allows a rush of blood to bring oxygen to the prefrontal cortex which relaxes the body by activating the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).  When the PNS is activated it enhances concentration & mental endurance, and invigorates and calms the mind & nervous system. It strengthens the spinal muscles, nourishes the entire nervous system, increases lumbar spine elasticity, and relieves compression of the spine. It also stretches the hamstring muscles and increases flexibility of the hip joints.

Variations:

3. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

The practice of inverted postures reverses the effects of gravity on the body and encourages a rich supply of blood to the prefrontal cortex and enhances the working of the entire endocrine system. Inversion postures are also effective in improving mental power and concentration. It strengthens the arms, shoulder, and spinal muscles. Increases lumbar spine elasticity, and relieves compression of the spine. Stretches the hamstring muscles and increases flexibility of the hip joints.

4. Supported Fish Pose (Matsyasana)

Fish Pose stretches the throat, chest, abdomen, hip flexors, and intercostal muscles. It strengthens the upper back muscles and the back of the neck, which improves spinal flexibility and posture. Fish Pose improves lung inspiration capacity, which improves breathing and reduces fatigue and anxiety.

5. Reclining Bound Eagle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)

This restorative pose is used to focus the mind on the body while the body is relaxed. It opens the chest, allowing for deeper breathing and improved oxygen flow which lowers blood pressure and decreases the heart rate. The supine position encourages relaxation and decreased muscle tension in the abdominals and back and improves flexibility in the hip joints and groin.


6.   Legs Up Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)

There are many benefits to the inverted Legs Up the Wall Pose. When you put your legs up the wall with your pelvis elevated on a folded blanket, lymph and other fluids that can lead to swollen ankles, achy knees, and congested pelvic organs flow into the lower belly; this refreshes the legs and the reproductive area. This pose also gives blood circulation a gentle boost toward the upper body and head, which creates a pleasant rebalancing after prolonged standing or sitting. If you are stressed or anxious this pose is especially refreshing. 

7. Relaxation pose (Savasana)

The Relaxation pose calms the limbic system in the brain, normalizes blood circulation throughout the entire body. Savasana shifts the nervous system away from the sympathetic (fight or flight) to the parasympathetic (rest and digest), and we experience a calm. Over time, Savasana teaches us how to move our body into a state of down-regulation where digestion, the immune system, and other essential systems are restored and enhanced.

 

Author
Mahmood Siddique Board certified physician Mahmood I. Siddique, DO, FACP, FCCP, FAASM, takes a modern, holistic approach to caring for his patients at Sleep and Wellness Medical Associates in Hamilton, New Jersey. He believes medicine is most effective when it considers not just the patient’s symptoms, but the broader connections among their overall physical, emotional, and mental health and well-being.

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