Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Yoga for Anxiety and Stress

anxiety and stress
By Michael Gleason

Life is getting faster and faster – both physically and virtually.  And while getting a lot accomplished in the course of a work day is good, as is completing many overdue chores on the weekend that does not mean we as human beings experience anxiety and burnout.  

Thankfully there is yoga for anxiety.[1]  Sally Susinno, RYT-200 of Wellesley, Massachusetts, pointed out that more and more people are waking up and drinking larger and larger flagons of sweetened coffee drinks and diet colas which make their bodies more and more wound up.  Caffeine is also a diuretic which can lead to dehydration, or just not enough water consumption over the course of the day.  At the end of the day, the sweeteners and the stimulants have people reaching for sleeping pills – both over the counter and prescription strength. 

Because caffeine, in addition to life’s usual regiment of potential stressors, can heighten anxiety it is a good idea to tell you yogi that you are interested in yoga poses for anxiety and panic.  Hopefully you do not have to live with panic attacks.  Please take it up with a healthcare professional right away if you are experiencing episodes of anxiety and panic without provocation.

Getting back to addressing anxiety and panic on the yoga mat, really make it a point to “come home to yourself.”[2] Moreover, if you are really that busy and stressed out be sure to give yourself not just that 75 to 90-minute yoga class but give yourself ample time to arrive to class (you may need to change out of work clothes) and then also spend some time in corpse pose or at the end of the class if necessary.  Corpse pose is simply lying supine with your palms up so there will never be a need to modify the pose.  Although some studios will let you put your legs up against the wall for a few minutes before going into corpse pose. 

Actually, it is legs up on the wall that is one of six yoga poses that are recommended for anxiety relief.[3]

- To get into legs up on the wall start by placing where mat where you can stretch your legs free from touching light switches or electric outlets (especially if you take a heated yoga class and have been perspiring), some students in this pose need a bolster at the small of the back for extra support, with your arms relaxed at your side go ahead and shut your eyes and try to relax with your facial muscles, hopefully your instructor will have a face pad, you can also use a hand towel to cover your eyes, too, then inhale while counting to five and then exhale while counting to five, many students pursuing yoga for anxiety and stress relief reported their heart rates going down while in this position.

- Child’s pose, believe it or not you’re in the fetal position; for a focus on yoga for anxiety and stress go ahead and lower your forehead onto the mat or as close as possible, modified poses will always give you the same benefit, knees together or in an open “V” shape, stretch your arms out and then mindfully release your neck, back, and shoulders and then – of course – let yourself go!

- Seated forward bend, start with being upright on your mat with both legs stretched out front, you can always rock your hips from side to side to ensure a good connection to the mat, go only as far as possible with a long spine, note that if you keep your spine rounded the pose will benefit your back muscles and joints vs. the hamstrings and corresponding leg joints and tendons, part of yoga is being present so be present to which of these will promote yoga for anxiety and stress

- Cat/cow pose, it’s best to start these by making sure you’ve “dropped” your shoulders and your knees directly below the hip bones (avoid leaning forward unless this lead to downward facing dog or cobra or plank), as you inhale try to draw your stomach in (pretend your stomach is trying to touch your backbone), and as you inhale back into cat pose make it a point to gaze at your navel and pretend you are a Halloween cat! Do this several times (four to five is the usual, standard performed in one class), but observe the movement in your vertebrae

- Stand forward bend, this is such a standard yoga pose and aerobics class warm-up that no mat is required, because this is an emphasis on being present via yoga and using yoga as a tool to treat anxiety and stress you can do this in the park or at your desk at work, start by standing up straight reaching through the crown of your head, your feet can be together or hip-distance apart, continue to keep your back elongated as you bend forward for the full effect, any feelings of heaviness in your neck and shoulders and upper back should at least being to release, the word yoga means “whole” so really let the stress and anxiety leave your mind, body, and spirit and grant yourself permission to become whole again, most yoga instructors will tell the class to shut their eyes and really let yourself feel like a wet noodle, if your fingers do not reach the floor or you are having difficulty reaching the floor you can always fold your arms over your head.

- Corpse pose, as promised earlier, there is no modification needed, the real means test to see how decompressed you have become is to stretch your muscles from head to toe (even wrinkle up your face and brow like you sucked on a lemon), clear your mind and visualize a revolving door, send your negative thoughts out via the revolving door and gladly welcome positivity and waking mindfulness back into your life, continue to breathe deeply by inhaling and exhaling through the mouth, after a series of breaths you should feel yourself sinking into the floor




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