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How Yoga can Help Combat Anxiety

Our new era of anxiety…perhaps you have experienced it or know someone who has. It is nondiscriminatory, and can affect us at any age and stage of life. Our society has seen a rise in anxiety disorders by twentyfold in the last 30 years. So we have to ask ourselves, what has changed in our culture and society to contribute to such an increase in what is known as “the most common” of all mental illnesses. We can point fingers at the environmental toxins, the abundance of processed foods, Internet bullying and accessibility of video games, but some experts explain, it is the lack of EMPATHY for ourselves and others that can lead to anxiety in our society. (Psychology Today)

The practice of extending Loving-kindness (Metta) is a form of mediation that when combined with several poses can be fruitful when working with anxiety disorders. Begin your mediation and practice by extending loving kindness to someone you love first. Then extend loving kindness to yourself. Keep the energy flowing by extending loving kindness to someone neutral, and then to enemies. It’s a simple pay-it-forward concept. This acknowledges that everyone in our lives are precious, even the enemies that have caused us so much pain. Loving-kindness is not like falling in love because it’s not an accident. It is an intention without craving.

With your mediation in action, a yogasana practice can be designed to help prevent and relieve the symptoms of anxiety attacks and disorders. If you experience symptoms related to anxiety and depression, you may also want to consider yoga breathing practices and asana sequences that slow the heart rate, drop blood pressure, and release your muscles to help soothe the anxious mind. When people are anxious, the sympathetic nervous system is working on overdrive and the entire body’s balance is disturbed. Yoga inversions have the power to purify and balance the nervous system by stimulating the Pituitary and Pineal glands. These glands release hormones into the brain to bring us to a more stable state of mind.

The following list of poses should be practiced daily and with 5 to 10 min per pose to help minimize anxiety symptoms. Those with high blood pressure, pregnant, menstruating, or have experienced and spinal injury should consult with an experienced yoga instructor before attempting this sequence alone.

Yoga is a practice that can assist with preventative and curative results. It goes beyond just practicing poses. But the combination of your sequence, like the combination of your foods, plays an integral role in your health and well-being. Just as there is no quick way to get rich, there too is no quick fix to our health management. Anything worth preserving and nurturing takes hard work, commitment, and loving-kindness. Namaste

8 Poses to combat Anxiety

1. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose), supported

2. Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand)

3. Viparita Dandasana (Inverted Staff Pose), supported

4. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose), supported

5. Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand)

6. Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend), supported

7. Balasana (Child’s Pose), supported

8. Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-Wall Pose), supported