Yoga For Stress & Anxiety

I think this is a topic that needs no introduction right now. So, let's just get right into it!

Here are some practices that are so powerful yet so simple that you can start right now. It won't take long, and they pack A LOT of punch. They are all practices that I know from doing myself. Try it for 3 days and see the result. 

1. Bhramari Pranayama (breathing exercise)

Why: Anxiety reliever.

How: Sit in a comfortable, upright position. Gently press the ears closed with the index fingers, so that your voice echoes inside your head when you speak (do not insert fingers inside the ears). Raise the elbows to the sides, and up to the level of the shoulders. Inhale. As you exhale, make an "mmmmmmmm" sound, keeping the lips closed, until all the breath is exhaled. Repeat 7 times.

It is this gentle humming sound which gives this pranayama its name of "Humming Bee Breath." It is so powerful! The gentle vibration creates a very soothing, calming, relaxing effect.

2. Om Chanting

Why: Om chanting has been shown to reduce emotional tensions, reduce fear, and promote resiliency of health. Om chanting increases intuition. Benefits can be experienced after just 5 minutes of chanting.

How: Sit in a comfortable, upright posture. Chant Om in the most comfortable way for you. Play with it and see what feels best to you, ie what pitch and what speed.

3. Sing!

Why: Relieves emotional, mental and physical tensions. It actually really does! Singing is a powerful, rhythmic and regulated breath exercise, or pranayama, in itself. It helps you oxygenate your brain, which reduces anxiety, especially if you’re a breath-holder when you feel anxious. Singing also relaxes the diaphragm and chest muscles, reducing anxiety by allowing you to take deeper breaths. Finally, singing helps release emotions so, if you feel like you’re about to yell, try singing first instead! Singing will also get you out of your thinking/worrying mind. Music and song are powerful in shifting moods. In Yoga, kirtan and bhajan are sung regularly.

4. Dance party in the living room

Why: It relaxes tensions in the body when you move your body freely and loosen it up. Going for a walk is really great too. It also gets you out of your thinking/worrying mind, and has a lot of the same benefits as singing.

5. Find Your Positivity

Why: Positivity makes your already healthy immune system even stronger. It also keeps our mind and perspective in balance. Sometimes, it is easy to focus on, and amplify, what we are worried about and forget the other aspects of a situation, or of life in general. Remaining positive keeps you in a positive, auspicious flow with life.

How: Begin your day by listing (either mentally or on paper) 3 things you are grateful for. Watch your internal dialogue to ensure that it is also getting positive input from you, so your mind and mood can follow suit and also stay in balance. We can handle negativity, as long as we are feeding our minds positive input as well.

6. Meet Kali

Why: She is the Divine Mother in the form of a fierce protector. She is an often misunderstood figure, but she is a fierce defender of good and of her children, so she is my girl right now!

Sometimes, I like to stick my tongue all the way out like she does and say "HAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!" and then I really feel that "DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT MESSING WITH THIS HOUSEHOLD!" energy and I, too, feel brave and powerful! (If you’ve ever taken Teresa’s Yoga classes at Semperviva in Vancouver then you know what I mean!!)

7. Stay Busy & Keep Routines

Why: You know what they say about an idle mind! Keeping busy keeps your mind engaged and focused, rather than brooding and worried. A certain amount of worry and concern is healthy in my opinion, as it tells us that there is something we must act upon, however, we do not want to become engulfed in unproductive worry that actually begins to harm us. 

Being engaged in a task will help engage a part of the mind that is not as emotional, and this will give you and your emotions a rest, and allow your mind to keep its ability to focus and concentrate.

Also, if you have kids who could have a lot of free time on their hands, like in the event of a school closure, routines will hold both you and them throughout the day. First breakfast, then a walk, then art time, then a snack, then kid-style fun yoga class (youtube it if you don't want to wing it!), then lunch, then read stories, then help make dinner together, then bedtime routine etc.. This will help create a rhythm and a sense of familiarity and safety through-out the day, as well as fun!

8. Yoga Nidra Meditation

Why: This truly is a very special practice. This easyyyyyyy guided meditation is done lying down and is a beautiful experience that manages to take so much tension out of the body, mind and emotions. It is even said that 30min of Yoga Nidra can equal 2 hours of sleep, it is that rejuvenating. 

You can find many online, but I will tell you honestly that I have in my possession the best one I have ever experienced. Email me at hello@communitymaternity.ca if you would like me to send it to you free of charge. It would be my absolute pleasure to send it to you! You can also search for Intermediate Yoga Nidra by Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati (first choice). Richard Miller is another person who gives a reputable Yoga Nidra.

How: Search for a Yoga Nidra you like on iTunes or YouTube, or email me at hello@communitymaternity.ca to send you a great one for free. Then, just lie down and put your headphones in. Enjoy the relaxation.

Practice any or all of these and you will be sure to feel and benefit from the effects. They say that, during times of stress, the worst parts of ourself can come to surface, however, in Yoga we always (try to) invite this, as it is seen as an opportunity to do some deep cleaning, to grow and to transform. And remember, while you will begin to feel the benefits of the practices right away, doing Yoga is different from taking a pill or medicine- the effect builds the more that you do it.

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