Yoga for Anxiety
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Disclaimer: Eka does not recommend replacing therapy with yoga, but yoga can be a complementary practice that will immensely benefit in finding relaxation, peace, and inner calm.
Yoga is a mind-body practice, and it provides a holistic intervention in managing anxiety.
Try a breathing exercise for anxiety now!
Yoga offers a path for everyone to reach a state of peace and calm. It has practices based in movement, breathing exercises, relaxation, concentration, and meditation.
Patanjali defined the the eightfold path known as ashtanga yoga that provides a way to build your practice and reach the highest state of meditation.
1) Yama – Personal Conduct.
2) Niyama – Personal Discipline
3) Asanas – Postures/ Poses
4) Pranayama – Breathing Exercises
5) Pratyahara – Sensory Withdrawal
6) Dharana – Concentration
7) Dhyana – Meditation
8) Samadhi – Union/relaxed awareness
Yogic Techniques for Anxiety
1. Yoga Asana
Movement or Yoga asana is the foundational practice to relieve anxiety. Within yoga asanas, two types of practices take centre stage for anxiety:
Traditional Hatha Yoga – In this practice, the asanas are held for longer durations with awareness on the bodily sensations. The practice also build physical resilience.
Dynamic Movements – This practice helps to release excess or restless energy from the body. It also prepares the body to be still and restores the body’s homeostasis balance.
Pranayama or breathing exercises are an effective tool to switch the nervous system to the “rest and digest” mode and experience a quick relaxation. We begin the pranayama journey with a simple deep breathing technique called abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing.
3. Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra or yogic sleep, or yogic dreaming is the most popular, easy, and enjoyable relaxation meditation. It is usually done lying down, but you can also do it sitting in an easy chair. It is also a very effective practice in improving sleep.
Mantras are unique mystical formulas of sacred syllables, which were originally revealed to the Rishis (seers or sages) in the deepest states of meditation. They are one of the earliest components of yoga. One of the most well-known mantra Aum is often users as a seed mantra for longer chants.
Chanting with a mala or japa is a wonderful and easy way to combat anxiety as it gives us a powerful counter force to negative thoughts and with time builds the spaciousness inside us to tune our responses versus reacting to every situation.
Feelings of anxiousness versus anxiety disorder
Approximately 26.4 crore people globally [3.8 crore Indians] suffer from a diagnosable anxiety disorder. Of course, 100% of people experience anxiety on occasion. Anxiety is a feeling that something threatening or dire will come to pass at some point in the future. [As opposed to fear, which is a feeling that one gets when one is in the midst of something that is perceived as a threat.] Because the experience of anxiety is internal and personal, people sometimes have difficulty determining what it is that they are feeling, and what they can do about it. Is it a persistent imbalance of brain chemistry, or is it one’s reaction to great uncertainty in one’s future? Should one seek a psychiatrist, or will practices that curb the stress response, such as yoga, improve one’s state of mind while the future sorts itself out. This post will offer some insight into the differences between anxiety disorders and elevated anxiety.
One common (but not ever-present) difference between those with anxiety disorders versus those experiencing elevated anxiety is that individuals with anxiety disorders often can’t identify a particular cause of their anxious feelings. The individual may experience intense physical symptoms and overpowering emotional feelings that they don’t understand. Learn more about the different types of Anxiety disorders…
The Science of yoga for anxiety
A 2016 analysis conducted by scholars at Boston University of seventeen studies found support for hatha yoga as treatment for anxiety, particularly for those with elevated levels of anxiety [Hofmann, et. al.] The bulk of the findings investigating yoga as a means to reduce anxiety among those who are not afflicted with a disorder seem to be in line with the Boston University meta-analysis. [Meta-analyses (called literature reviews in some fields) are papers that report the findings of a number of separate individual studies. Many of the papers cited in this post are of that variety because our goal is to try to show the overarching picture.]. Read more….
Eka’s 8 week program for anxiety relief
Yoga for Anxiety has three main steps:
2) Building Awareness
3) Acceptance and Letting go
We offer an eight weeks program to help you learn to relax and activate the “parasympathetic response” of your nervous system. As you relax, you will be able to make space for observation and hence build awareness of your thoughts and sensations. And with this new awareness, you will be able to identify the root cause of your anxiety – and then set an intention to accept it or let it go.