9 Yoga Tips to Overcome Anxiety disorder
Work away your anxiety woes with yoga moves.
Relief from anxiety and stress is now only a yoga technique away!
Stress, fear, anxiety – if we start counting all those instances in life when we experienced these emotions, we may just lose count! Anxiety about the result of a Board exam or the reaction of our parents to the report card; nervousness about the first date or a job interview – we all would have lived through these moments. A little bit of fear is normal; in fact, just like salt in the food, it is needed so that we remain disciplined, focused and dynamic.
The problem starts when this fear becomes persistent and so intimidating as to start interfering with our everyday life. Then it becomes an anxiety disorder, a state of excessive uneasiness, worry, or fear of the unknown, which needs to be treated, and this is where yoga can help.
It’s also good to know that yoga alone should not be considered as the only treatment option. It should complement proper medication after consultation with a doctor or specialist. The doctor would guide you on the condition better and help you understand the type of anxiety disorder you may have – Panic Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, or Generalized Anxiety Disorder, to name a few.
Note: Allopathic medicines may have side effects; you may consider alternate lines of treatment such as Homoeopathy and Ayurveda.
Symptoms to know if you have anxiety disorder?
- You feel unusually panicky, scared and uneasy.
- You tend to get uncontrolled, obsessive thoughts of past traumatic experiences.
- You wake up from frequent nightmares.
- You tend to repeatedly wash your hands.
- You have problems sleeping.
- Your hands and feet stay unusually sweaty.
- You get frequent palpitations.
How can yoga exercises help get over anxiety?
Regular yoga practice can help you stay calm and relaxed in daily life and can also give you the strength to face events as they come without getting restless. Yoga practice ideally includes the complete package of asanas (body postures), pranayamas (breathing techniques), meditation, and the ancient yoga philosophy, all of which has helped several anxiety patients recover and face life with new positivity and strength.
Shares Sushama Goyal, homemaker, “I would always remain tense and worried about little things in life. Every small or big event would shake me up. My husband decided to consult a doctor who told us that I had generalized anxiety disorder. I underwent anxiety treatment, along with regular practice of yoga and meditation for about six months. And today I feel I have got a new birth. My thinking has changed, I feel much settled from within, and I have faith that whatever will happen will be for the good. I’m not scared of the future anymore! Yoga gave me this strength.”
Like Sushama, even you can say hello to a positive life and overcome fear with yoga. The following yoga techniques can help calm an unsettled mind.
- 1: Move your body and relieve your mind of stress with asanas.
These yoga postures can help achieve a happy and healthy mind and body. Asanas help release tension and negativity from the system.
- Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
- Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
- Janu Shirsasana (One-Legged Forward Bend)
- Setubandhasana (Bridge Pose)
- Marjariasana (Cat Stretch)
- Paschimottanasana (Two-Legged Forward Bend)
- Hastapadasana (Standing Forward Bend)
- Adhomukha Shwanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
- Shirshasana (Headstand)
- Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
Note:At the end of the yoga posture session, lie down inYoga Nidra to give your mind and body a few minutes of through relaxation. The technique is helpful in flushing out body toxins, a primary cause of stress, from the system.
- 2: Breathe right with pranayamas to relieve anxiety
Taking your attention to the breath can help free the mind of the unnecessary clutter of thoughts that breed anxiety. Try the following breathing practices:
Kapal Bhati Pranayama (Skull-Shining Breathing Technique)
Nadi Shodhan Pranayama (Alternate Nostril Breathing) – effective in releasing stress from the system (where the exhalation is longer than the inhalation)
Bhramari Pranayama (Bee Breath)
- 3: Meditate to enjoy the gift of a relaxed mind
Meditation can be an excellent technique to relax a distracted mind, give you a sense of calm and peace, and also observe with daily practice how your mind works to keep you involved in small, petty things around. It can also help you not worry too much or get anxious of the unknown future.
You might have often heard the term ‘adrenalin rush’. This happens when we get too anxious about a potential threat. For instance, while taking an adventure ride. At such a time, the level of adrenalin hormone goes higher, leading our heart to beat faster, making the muscles tense and our body sweat profusely. Scientific research has shown that regular meditation practice can help significantly reduce the level of this stress hormone.
- 4: Apply yoga philosophy in your life; stay happy and enjoy every moment
Knowing and applying the ancient yoga knowledge in daily life, which talks about some simple yet profound principles (yamas and niyamas) of yoga, can be the secret to happy and healthy living. For instance, the Santosha principle (niyama) teaches the value of contentment. The Aprigraha principle can help us overcome greediness or the desire to keep possessing more, which can be a reason for stress and anxiety. Also, the Shaucha principle talks about cleanliness of the mind and body. This rule can particularly help if you tend to get too anxious about catching infectious diseases.
The yamas and niyamas of yoga will also help us eat nutritious food and live a healthy lifestyle which greatly helps to overcome anxiety and stress. To understand the yoga philosophy, you may consider reading Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Commentary on Patanjali Yoga Sutras.
- 5: Pray, keep faith and smile!
Prayer is the best form of reassurance and support to keep you anxiety-free. Developing habits of daily prayer, chanting or singing bhajans (devotional songs) fill you with positive energy and also help still the mind. They also instill a sense of deep faith that all happens for the best and that there is a higher divine power that takes care. Moreover, make a conscious effort to smile more and more. It will instill confidence, calmness and positivity instantaneously. Try it out right now!
- 6: Think about what you can do for others
When we constantly remain stuck in ‘me and mine’, it makes room for stress and anxiety. We keep worrying about what will happen to us. Rather, shift your attention to how you can be of some use to others around you. Energizing yourself with some service activity can give you deep satisfaction and immense joy.
- 7: Know the impermanence of the world
When this realization sets in that everything around us is temporary and would change, we become relaxed and settled from within. A feeling of ‘this too shall pass and not remain forever’ arises in us and frees us from anxiety. Meditation can help us see this founding principle of life.
- 8: Remember a similar past situation when you could overcome anxiety
This fills you with immense courage that you can pass even this situation. Keep reminding this to yourself often.
- 9: Keep positive company around you
When you spend more time with positive-minded people, you are influenced by similar thoughts, which reflects in your overall attitude to life. Only a positive mind can breed joy, peace and relaxation.
(Written by Pritika Nair based on inputs by Dr. Sejal Shah, Art of Living Yoga teacher.)
Yoga Nidra: An Ideal Anxiety Eliminator
Meditation is a blessing for those who are troubled with anxiety, panic, endless thoughts, and restlessness. But what if these emotions do not let you meditate at peace? When you are worn out with feeling fearful and anxious all day, the body and mind crave the experience of some rest and a little peace; but more times than not, you are too restless to stop, relax and meditate!
At this very acute stage of anxiety and panic, our bodies need something that can tell them that it’s ok to relax and let go! Yoga nidra – a systematic, multistage set of relaxation techniques, helps to induce a deep, meditative state by shifting concentration on the breath. It is both, a form of meditation as well as a mind and body balancing therapy.
Yoga nidra allows us to reach the most profound level of relaxation possible. It actually benefits the practitioner on all the three levels of existence; i.e. physical, mental and spiritual.
Relieved Physical Restlessness:
By guiding your body to balance states of physical and emotional being, practitioners often experience immediate physical benefits, such as reduced stress and better sleep, and relief from various pains. Yoga nidra is known for its potential to heal psychological wounds. The mind turns sharper at grasping information and learning becomes much quicker when practicing yoga nidra. Some of the most troubling post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, including hyper alertness, anxiety, and sleep disturbances, have diminished. Diseases such as insomnia, hypertension, migraine, ulcers, digestive disorders, and even asthma can be managed by “Yoga nidra”.
Anxiety can be described as an unpleasant feeling of fear of something. It can be categorized into at these five distinctive types:
- Panic – an extreme momentary fear without any obvious external cause.
- Phobia – irrational fear resulting in conscious and forceful avoidance of particular objects, anticipated situations, people and other things.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) – a reiteration of thoughts (obsession) for something that has to do with a certain fear.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – mainly brought about by excessive negative past experiences rendering one feel helpless and / or fearful.
- Generalized anxiety disorder – a general feeling of ‘angst’ or aroused fear of anxiousness.
Managing Anxiety and Discovering Inner Bliss:
Yoga nidra is a wonderfully effective deep relaxation technique for anxiety treatment and panic, releasing tension and improving health. It is indispensable for settling anxiety problems. Suffering from anxiety involves dealing with a highly alert and over reactive mind which is constantly either on fight or flight mode. Continuously ruminating on negative thoughts, worrying about future events, or probable circumstances, can get really tiring. Our mind creates our world. Thus our reaction patterns often become the source of suffering. A person in an anxious state of mind has readily created barriers around her own life thus impeding a free and creative unfolding. Yoga nidra is highly effective to help calm down such a mind and release negative thoughts. Continuous practice of yoga nidra cultivates a mental sense of quietude and deep physical and emotional relaxation in the practitioner.
A lot of us are continuously trying to bring about a behavioral or emotional change in us and yoga nidra helps us to welcome ourselves and mould our new being into our own skin easily. This moment of true welcoming is where the profound transformation takes place. Often when the body and mind are unable to deal with pressure; either physical or emotional, it releases from the body and mind in the form of frustration, anger, panic or anxiety, pains or illness. Often pent up emotions or accumulated stress is released during yoga nidra, which detoxifies the mind. This in turn helps the mind to learn and absorb new material and enhance creativity. Yoga nidra counteracts stress and provides effective relief from depression and long standing anxiety. Regular practice of yoga nidra will help to release this stress step by step from all levels of existence and enhance our emotional quotient. As a meditation practice, yoga nidra can engender a profound sense of joy and well-being. Yoga nidra offers a gentle approach, starting with body awareness, then working compassionately with thoughts and emotions as they arise, and gradually leading the meditator to access a greater field of awareness.
Simple and effective postures to beat PTSD
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can wreak havoc in one’s life and must be dealt with carefully. Today, people suffering from PTSD are recommended to rely not only on medication and therapy to set their life back on course, but also look at yoga as a potential de-stressing technique. Yoga is an ancient yet unique technique that works on both – body and mind, and is very effective in overcoming PTSD.
Here are a few simple yoga postures to get you de-stressed right away:
- Kapal Bhati Pranayama (Skull Shining Breathing Technique): The Skull shining breathing technique pranayama improves blood circulation, brings a glow to the face and energizes the nervous system. This pranayama is very good for people suffering from PTSD as it rejuvenates brain cells and uplifts the mind.
- Tadasana (Mountain pose):Eliminate stress and fatigue with the Mountain pose. This yoga posture helps keep the effects of PTSD at bay by relieving the body of stress.
- Konasana (Standing sideways bending one-arm): Like the Mountain pose, the Konasana also relieves the body of stress and is highly recommended for people suffering from PTSD.
- Marjariasana (Cat pose): A relatively simple yoga posture, the Cat pose improves blood circulation and very effectively relaxes the mind.
- Setu Bandhasana (Bridge pose): The Bridge pose calms the brain, reduces anxiety, stress and depression. For a person dealing with PTSD, the Bridge pose is one of the most simple and effective yoga postures.
- Shavasana (Corpse pose):The final resting pose, Corpse pose, helps repair tissues and cells while relieving the body of stress. This posture also reduces blood pressure, anxiety and is very helpful for people going through PTSD.
PTSD can be overcome by being regular with medication, therapy and yoga. Keeping a positive outlook also helps turn things around. Friends and family should be supportive and help the distressed person bounce back in life with renewed enthusiasm.