According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 40 million Americans are affected by some type of anxiety disorder each year.
That’s 18.1% of the U.S. population!
Of that, only 36.9% of people suffering with anxiety get treatment, even though it’s a highly treatable disease.
What this means is that 1) you’re not alone and 2) you can get relief from your anxiety, whether it’s mild or debilitating.
And the best part?
You don’t need to take medication or see doctor after doctor to get help.
All you need is a yoga mat, some comfy clothes, and these 11 calming yoga poses for anxiety.
Yoga for Anxiety Relief
The word “yoga” means “to unite,” as in to unite the mind, body, and spirit.
Yoga teaches that the mind, body, and spirit are all connected, meaning how and what we think effects our bodies and what our bodies do effects our minds.
It makes sense.
Practicing yoga with our bodies helps calms the mind, which in turn helps calm and relax our bodies.
The same goes for anxiety. Stress and anxiety can impact both your mental and physical health and lead to numerous health issues.
If you suffer from an anxiety disorder and have noticed unexplained health issues, like changes in digestive function, anxiety may be to blame.
I personally have anxiety and have encountered digestive problems, trouble sleeping, and difficulty focusing. All of that (plus more) just from anxiety!
As a way to naturally relieve these symptoms, I decided to take up yoga and it’s honestly changed my life. And it’ll do the same for you.
So how does yoga help anxiety?
Yoga uses a combination of breath work, meditation, movements, and relaxation to bring balance to your life.
The simple act of stretching your body helps relieve any pent up tension and stiffness you may be carrying.
And while you’re practicing these healing yoga asanas, a lot of focus is spent on your breathing, putting you into a meditative state. As a result, you become more mindful.
Practicing mindfulness allows you to be present and aware of your thoughts, emotions, and how your body feels. It helps you find out what you’re really feeling, both physically and emotionally, so you can honestly confront your fears and worries and move past them.
Essentially, yoga helps you become a better version of you by *forcing* you to get in touch with yourself.
Additionally, a significant healing aspect of yoga is how it affects the endocrine system. Yoga poses stimulate endocrine function – the glands that produce hormones – helping to balance hormones naturally.
As you can see, there are many different aspects of yoga that help alleviate anxiety and stress, and coupled together, they’re a force to be reckoned with.
So make some time in your busy schedule to practice these yoga poses for anxiety.
It’ll only take ya 11 minutes, after all!
1. Easy Pose (Sukhasana)
Often times, yoga sequences begin with Easy Pose as it’s a great place to practice meditating and breathing exercises.
Begin sitting with your knees bent, legs folded, and feet tucked under the opposite knees.
Place your hands loosely on your knees and sit up straight. Keep your back straight while performing this pose.
Clear your mind and bring awareness to your breath.
Hold for 30 seconds, alternate the cross of your legs, and hold for another 30 seconds.
2. Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana)
From Sukhasana, unfold your legs so they’re stretched out in front of you.
Press through your heels, making sure your feet are actively engaged.
On an inhale, lengthen your torso and bend forward at the hips, not waist, and grab the sides of your feet.
If you can’t reach your feet, grab the outer edge of your legs for support.
On each inhale, lengthen your torso and on each exhale, bend and reach further forward.
Stay in Paschimottanasana for 1 minute.
3. Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
From your Seated Forward Fold, swing your legs around towards the back of your mat and slowly stand up.
Tuck your tailbone and lengthen your torso as you would in Tadasana.
Keeping your inner left foot firm on the floor, shift your weight to your left foot and bend your right knee.
Gently grab your right ankle with your right hand and place the sole of your foot on your inner left thigh just above the knee, toes pointing down.
Bring your hands together in Anjali Mudra, as if praying with your hands near your heart.
Stay in Tree Pose for 30 seconds, alternate legs, hold for another 30 seconds, then return to Tadasana.
4. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
Beginning in Tadasana, step your left foot back so your feet are about 3 feet apart.
Rotate your left foot 45 degrees, keeping your heels in line with one another.
On an inhale, spread your arms wide, reaching your right fingertips forward and your left fingertips back.
Keep your neck long and your head facing forward.
On an exhale, bend your front knee so it’s positioned over your ankle with your shin perpendicular to the floor.
Stay in Warrior II for 30 seconds, repeat on the other side, hold for another 30 seconds, then return to Tadasana.
5. Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
Standing in Tadasana, inhale and reach your arms up to the sky.
On an exhale, engage your abdominal muscles and bend from the hips, not the waist, lengthening the torso.
Keeping your legs as straight as possible without causing discomfort, bring your fingers or palms to the floor in front of you.
If you can’t reach the floor, place your palms on your ankles or fold your arms over each other and hold your elbows. You may also bend your knees slightly in order to reach the floor.
Each time you inhale, lift and lengthen your torso. On each exhale, move deeper into the bend so your chest is closer to your legs.
Hold Uttanasana for 1 minute.
6. Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana + Bitilasana)
From Forward Fold, bend your knees and lower them to your mat.
On all fours, place your hands and wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips.
On an inhale, drop your stomach towards the mat. Gently lift your chin and neck so you are gazing towards the ceiling without straining the neck. This is Cow Pose.
On an exhale, pull your belly button up towards your spine and round your back toward the ceiling. Turn your gaze towards the ground without bringing your chin to your chest. This is Cat Pose.
Repeat this Cat-Cow sequence for 1 minute.
7. Extended Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana)
A cross between Downward Dog and Child’s Pose, Extended Puppy Pose lengthens the spine while calming the mind.
On all fours with a neutral spine, slowly walk your hands forward a few inches.
Pressing down through your palms, push your hips slightly back toward your heels to create a slight curve in your back.
On each inhale and exhale, lengthen the spine.
Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
8. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Returning to your hands and knees, move your big toes together so they’re touching and spread your knees wide apart.
Slowly move your hips backwards until your glutes are resting on your feet and your arms are extended out in front of you.
Rest your forehead gently on the floor or turn your head to either side to relieve pressure.
Stay in Child’s Pose for 1 minute, focusing on your breathing.
9. Headstand (Sirsasana)
Practicing inversions with your body in alignment helps calm the brain and relieve anxiety.
This is a challenging pose so if you’re not there yet, that’s okay! Skip the headstand in this yoga for anxiety sequence until you’re able to safely stick it.
Kneeling on the floor, place your forearms on the floor in front of you with your elbows shoulder-width apart.
Interlace your fingers with your pinkies touching the ground. Gently place the crown of your head onto the ground, cradling it with your interlaced fingers.
Tuck your toes and lift your hips high, slowly walking your feet towards your chest.
Engaging your abdominal muscles, press your weight into your forearms and lift out of your shoulders while slowly lifting one leg off of the ground, then the other.
Once both legs are up, straighten them out and align them with your shoulders and hips.
Hold for 10-30 seconds and repeat if your little heart desires.
10. Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
Place a folded blanket near a wall and situate yourself, sitting, next to it.
Lay down on your back with your butt against the wall and the back of your legs resting up against the wall. Your body should form an ‘L’ shape.
Adjust the blanket so it’s resting under the arch of your back. Make sure to leave a small gap between the blanket and the wall so your hip sockets have space to settle in.
If it’s uncomfortable to place your legs straight up the wall, you can bend your knees slightly for relief.
Place your arms at your sides, on your chest, or wherever feels best.
Stay in Viparita Karani for 1 minute.
11. Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Last, but certainly not least, is Savasana.
Center yourself on your mat and lay down flat on your back.
Rotate your shoulders back and down and rest your arms beside you.
Allow your legs to relax and your feet to gently fall to the side.
The goal is to relax all your muscles so you can reach total relaxation.
For added comfort, you can place a folded blanket under your knees.
Stay in Savasana for 1 minute.
Say Goodbye to Anxiety
Letting go of anxiety can be challenging. Not because you don’t want to, but because you don’t know how.
By starting a yoga practice of your own and incorporating these yoga poses for anxiety, you’ll start to feel that worry melt away.
It’s time to say goodbye to anxiety and helloooo to your true self.