Yoga Antidotes to Anxiety

Tree hugging in Bath
Trees calm me down!

Anxiety. Those worried thoughts; the general feeling of unease; the feeling that your nerves are on edge. Apprehension. Agitation.

Do you feel it? I know I am prone to it.

Now, I have a hunch that those of us who tend to experience anxiety are highly sensitive.

Anxiety is our nervous system’s response to the excess of external stimuli in our environment: our fight / flight / freeze response keeps getting revved by the information overload of our busy lives and pushy culture and we wind up feeling anxious.

So the good news is, there’s nothing wrong with you. I am PASSIONATE about this. If you experience anxiety you don’t need to be medicated. You don’t have to beat yourself up. You don’t have to tell yourself – or listen to others telling you – there’s something wrong with you.

Explore the fact that you might simply be sensitive.

However, it’s a fact that in this busy, often-harsh, over-stimulating world we need some tools to help us deal with the feelings of anxiety.

Here are some tools which help me. Give them a try and see what works for you.

And know that inner peace and strength is within you – it’s just that some days we may need to look a bit harder to find it than others. And that’s OK.

When you’re feeling wound up:
release anxiety from your body

To release anxiety and stress from your body; to soften the hardness, holding and tension, you need to get moving. Daily.

Stretching and twisting  and shaking are good – to get the energy moving in your body.

The simple movements in my video will do the trick!

When you’re feeling disconnected:
Ground

Avebury tree roots - grounding yoga
Feel the earth beneath your feet

Try this antidote to anxiety to help you calm your body and mind: Grounding Visualisation.

*Sit (cross-legged or on a chair) with your spine tall. Close your eyes, or lower or gaze.

*Breathe deeply and steadily and allow your breath to slow naturally.

*Take your awareness and your breath down to the base of your spine.

*See in your mind’s eye that a tap root is growing out from your tailbone down into the earth – holding you still and safe and steady on the ground. Nothing can pull or push on you now. You are held by the earth. You are supported. You are nourished.

*Let any excess nervous, anxious energy drain away from you, down through that root – let this excess energy seep away to be neutralised by the gentle, loving power of the earth, leaving you feeling still, safe and refreshed.

*And when you’re ready, let this gentle, loving power rise to your heart and fill you with whatever positive qualities you need: inner strength; calmness; self-belief; joy. Whatever you need allow yourself to be filled up.

Connect to strength, stability and inner peace.

When you need to get back into your body and out of your head:
Salute the Earth

Try this flowing sequence of mindful movements to release tension from the whole of your body and to encourage a deep, smooth breath.

This will activate your body’s parasympathetic nervous system – the Rest & Digest response which puts your body into healing mode.

When you need to be strong & focused:
Mountain Pose

Mountain Pose - Living Yoga with Stella, Mindful yoga in Southampton & Eastleigh
Be strong and steady as a mountain

Mountain pose is a great antidote to anxiety.

Stand in stillness, feet hip-width apart. Soften your knees. Allow your spine to gently lengthen up out of your pelvis. Relax your shoulders. Soften your face. Soften your gaze.

Breathe… Imagine roots bursting out through the soles of your feet anchoring you into stillness, safety and security.

Let any anxiety or nervous tension drain away – let it be neutralised by the loving Earth beneath your feet.

And allow a blissful calm to wash through you….

You are safe. You are calm.

When you’re feeling lost in your mind & unable to focus:
Tree Pose

Focus your mind if you're feeling anxiety with Tree pose and calming yoga classes in Eastleigh and Southampton
Bringing some balance into my life

There’s nothing like standing on one leg to focus the mind

But, to be serious, Tree Pose helps us to connect to an inner strength and stability by grounding through the standing leg.

It encourages a sense of 1-pointed focus & concentration as we balance – helping us to be clear about what we want in life.

And, as the tree is strong yet yielding enough to let buffeting winds not uproot it, Tree Pose enables us to connect to a sense of flexibility and ease alongside strength and we learn we can remain strong while we withstand the storms of life’s challenges.

AFFIRM: I am strong and flexible. I let life flow through me with ease.

When you’re feeling self-critical:
Nurture self-love

Listen to your heart and learn to love yourself(Photo credit: Stella Tomlinson)
Listen to your heart and learn to love yourself

Loving-Kindness meditation connects to your heart and nourishes your soul to promote feelings of love, gentleness and connection.

Sit comfortably – and repeat these phrases over and over to yourself:

May I be filled with Loving-Kindness.
May I be healthy.
May I be happy.
May I be at ease.
May I be free.

When you need to check in with yourself: Mindfulness

The Yoga Path: Mindful yoga in Southampton and Eastleigh
The path to stillness

Walk the path to stillness with some everyday mindfulness.

Ask yourself these questions – and let the answers arise, without judgement, without pushing some away or grabbing onto others:

*How does my body feel, here in this moment? Do I notice any aches? Any areas of stiffness? How do my muscles feel? How do my joints feel?

* What sensations can I feel within my body? Any sense of warmth or coolness? Any tingling? Any sensations of openness or freedom?

*How am I breathing? Deeply? Shallowly? Quickly? Slowly? Roughly? Smoothly?

*How is my mind? What thoughts are present? What emotions? Is my mind busy or quiet today? Try to notice without judgement.

*What am I perceiving? On a deeper level, are there any thoughts coming up which are telling you answers to questions in your life? Any intuitions or insight? Any “gut feeling”?

*How connected do I feel? Does your energy feel scattered or do you feel still and connected e.g. to the earth and sky, to your body, breath, mind and wisdom? To nature? To other people? To a sense of purpose?

Tune into the messages within – let your body, breath and intuition guide you to inner peace.

When you’re feeling you’re going to explode at someone: Lion Pose

This is just a great way to release tension and unexpressed anger or resentment – in a safe way!

Let me tell you from experience, it’s so much better to go somewhere private and let it out this way than to let resentment fester in your body.

Get loads of short throats? That’s a sign something is out of whack with your throat chakra. Let Lion’s Pose help you :)

When you need some energy:
Use your breath

Your breath is such a powerful tool to help you calm your body and relax your mind.

Notice if your breath is shallow. If you’re chest-breathingDandelion. Most of us breathe this way. But this shallow breath isn’t bringing into your body all of the oxygen and Prana (life force) you need for well-being; it’s not expelling the toxins you need to.

Tense, shallow breathing sends a signal to the brain that all is not well, to be on alert for danger, to get ready to run.

A steady, full, deep breath is a powerful signal to the brain that it’s safe to relax.

Try this simple but effective breathing technique: breathe in to a count of four and out to a count of four. To your own speed. Let the speed of the counting be equal.

Focus on nothing but your breath.

Allow calm to wash over you. Feel the tension drain away.

Let yourself be filled with joyful life force and energy.

When you’re feeling vulnerable:
Child’s Pose

Antidote to Anxiety - Child's pose. Be supported with relaxing yoga in Southampton and Eastleigh
Be supported

Rest your body and let your mind settle with Supported Child Pose.

You don’t need a fancy-schmancy yoga bolster – you could use a pile of cushions or roll up a thick blanket. Place your support in front of you between your knees and slowly and gently lower yourself down onto it. Put a cushion under your bum if your knees feel sore.

Allow yourself to be supported. Release. Let go. Allow a child-like innocence to pervade your being.

There are no demands on you in this precious time. Relax…

When you’ve had a manic day:
Crocodile Pose

Crocodile yoga pose to relax - Living Yoga with Stella, yoga in Eastleigh & Southampton
Crocodile Pose: release & feel calm

Busy day at work? Try this yoga pose to relieve stress, anxiety and overwhelm.

Crocodile Pose: lie face down, take your feet wide apart and let the heels drop towards each other. Rest your forehead on the backs of your forearms or hands.

Breathe deeply and allow the anxiety, physical tension and busy thoughts to drain away down into the earth.

Affirm: “I release anxiety & troubling thoughts… I am becoming calm… I am calm”.

When you have trouble sleeping:
Legs up the Wall

Yoga pose to help sleep
Legs up the wall pose

Try this yoga pose before bed to calm your body and mind.

Legs Up The Wall Pose: Place a yoga mat or a blanket near a wall or door. Sit down and shimmy in close so the side of one hip is next to the wall. Then begin to turn as you lift your legs and feet up to the wall, and lie back – as per the picture.

Relax your body, breathe deeply and steadily and let any tension just drain away…

A really good one to let go of the day before you go to bed.
Sleep well xx

And remember

This too shall pass.


Over to you

Do you have any tips to relieving and releasing anxiety?  How have you got on with the techniques I’ve described above? Share in the comments below – I’d love to hear your thoughts!

What next?

Yoga in Southampton/Eastleigh: come to a weekly class for regular calming mindful movement and relaxation in a supportive atmosphere. I teach several public classes a week and monthly classes and workshops – check out my yoga class timetable and workshops schedule to find out more and make a booking enquiry.

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