How does yoga soothe anxiety?

By Jade Lizzie | Published: March 5, 2018 | Last updated: March 25, 2018

Anxiety is horrible, isn’t it? Whether you suffer from overwhelming, paralyzing panic, or mild yet persistent, nagging worry, it’s an extremely unpleasant experience.

Like any mental health condition, anxiety is a complex issue. There’s no guarantee that yoga is the answer, but many people do use yoga to successfully manage and soothe their anxiety; and there are proven ways that yoga can help. Here are five of them:

Yoga Makes You Present

Yoga is primarily a mindfulness practice. It’s about being here now, in the present moment. The thing about anxiety is that it tends to make you very future-focused. An anxious mind will worry, obsess over and live in the future, either forgetting or unable to tune into the present. Yoga counteracts that, teaching you to let go of your concerns about the future and notice what’s going on right now instead.

Asanas Give You Focus

In theory, meditation is a great practice to calm an anxious mind. However — and this is me speaking from personal experience here — when your mind is racing and jittery, the thought of sitting still and trying to meditate can be intimidating and off-putting. The mindful movements of yoga asanas are a great alternative. Focusing on the way your body moves gives you a tangible anchor for your wandering mind, making it easier to steady your thoughts and become more centered.

(What would Patanjali say about our changing states of mind?)

Exercise Releases Endorphins

As an exercise routine, yoga is a proven way to encourage your body to release endorphins. These are the body's well-known “feel good” hormones. They help lower stress levels, improve the quality of your sleep, and ward off anxiety.

Yoga Dissolves Tension

Ever had super-tight shoulders or a stiff neck after a stressful day? Most of us, when we’re anxious, are inclined to hold tension in our muscles. We don’t even realize we’re doing it. The more tense our bodies get, the worse we feel mentally, which makes us feel even more tense and creates a negative downward spiral. The stretches of yoga and the way it takes you out of your habitual movement patterns can help unlock the tension from your body, easing your mind in the process.

Yoga Cultivates a Calm Mindset

You might come to yoga in search of a strong, flexible body, but often the most unexpected benefits are the lessons yoga teaches you about how to approach life. Your yoga mat is the ideal place to practice surrender, trust and self-compassion: all powerful anti-anxiety tools.

Of course, there are no quick fixes for anxiety because managing and treating anxiety is a complex process. However, as a multi-faceted approach, yoga can be a great place to start. Let go of your expectations, trust in the process and see where it takes you.

(You may also be wondering How do you overcome performance anxiety when you first start teaching yoga?)


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Written by Jade Lizzie | Yoga teacher, writer and health and wellness geek.

Jade Lizzie

Jade is a yoga teacher, blogger and health and wellness geek. Her mission is to share the happiness that yoga has brought into her life.

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