What Yoga Poses Are Good For Anxiety?
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In this post, you will learn 5 yoga poses for anxiety relief. Yoga can be a great tool to use to help reduce anxiety and stress. When you’re feeling anxious, it’s best to do more grounding type yoga postures. Grounding poses help you to get out of your headspace by connecting with the ground/earth.
I highly recommend playing some relaxing music in the background while performing these poses.
With all of these poses, I suggest you perform diaphragmatic breathing (aka belly breathing). If you don’t know how to do this, click here for a video on this breathing technique.
Also, there’s no set rules on how long to hold yoga poses for, it’s what you feel is right for you. Just always make sure you are breathing and never holding your breath. Typically when teaching a class, I hold poses for 3-5 breaths, but do what works for you.
The more you practice yoga, the more in tune you become with your body and the more you’re able to determine what you need. The needs of your body are different everyday.
5 Yoga Poses for Anxiety
Vajrasana (rock pose)
This is a personal favorite of mine for grounding and might be my favorite of the yoga poses for anxiety listed in this post. If you do any of my yoga flows, you’ll probably notice that I start a lot of my practices with this pose. I do this because of the amazing grounding effects it can have. It’s a great pose to come into the present moment.
For extra grounding and anxiety relief in this pose, place your hands on your legs with your palms facing down.
If this pose is uncomfortable for you, you can place a yoga block on the floor under your buttocks, between your legs, to raise your hips up higher. Another option is to place a pillow in the space between your heels and buttocks so that your knees don’t have to bend so much.
These are the yoga blocks that I like: Gaiam Yoga Blocks
If you feel comfortable doing so, I suggest closing your eyes in this posture. If you don’t feel comfortable with the eyes closed, no worries, this is your practice. Either way, while you are in vajrasana, tune into the weight of gravity on your body while keeping your posture tall and try to keep your attention on your breath.
2. Malasana (yogi squat)
This pose is great because you’re grounding yourself by having the weight in your feet and you get to stay low to the ground.
You can either stay static with this posture or bring in some movement by rocking from side to side.
Make sure you press your hands together in prayer to keep your chest lifted and spine straight.
You’re working to get your heels to the floor. If they don’t make it there, that’s ok! Just keep in mind that this is one of the things you are working on in this pose.
3. Dandasana (staff pose)
In this posture, you want to sit up tall, so if you need to bend your knees to keep your spine straight that’s fine!
What you want to think about is sitting up tall while pressing your hands into the ground to get that grounding effect through the upper body.
Make sure to keep the breath steady in this pose!
4. Balasana (child's pose)
There are many ways you can do child’s pose but I find the variation with your arms back to be the best for anxiety relief.
While in child’s pose, keep your attention on how your forehead is in contact with the earth.
You can think about letting any unwanted thoughts or things that no longer serve you draining out through the forehead into the earth.
Really let go and relax in this posture.
5. Setu Bandhasana (bridge pose)
This posture is a little more active than the other yoga poses for anxiety, but it’s a really great pose for grounding. This is because you’re working through the lower body which is our support system, all while still staying on the ground. Bringing the energy into the legs can help reduce anxiety because many times when you’re in an anxious state, your energy is all up in your head.
When performing your bridge, really keep your awareness at your lower body and feel how your heels are pressing into the ground to keep your hips and pelvis lifted up.
Keep the hands resting at your sides with your palms facing down for extra grounding.
You can either hold this pose for around 3 breaths, or lift up and down 10 times, totally up to you.
When you’re done with your bridges, it’s always nice to let the legs windshield wipe side to side (basically the knees are bent, feet and pelvis are on the ground, and you let the knees fall side to side gently).
After performing your yoga poses for anxiety, I suggest relaxing in savasana.
I highly recommend ending in savasana to seal in this grounding work. I know some people may find it difficult to relax when anxious, but savasana and meditation are about teaching the mind to relax which is important when dealing with anxiety.
The benefits of doing yoga poses for anxiety and grounding prior to savasana or meditation is that you have already been working toward being in a more “zen” space. Also, if you try savasana and find you can’t relax, don’t worry! Like I said, it takes practice and there are no rules on what has to happen. A suggestion I do have for you is that if you find your mind wandering, just bring your attention back to your breath.
I have a free 7 day yoga experience that has 7 different types of yoga practices that I think you’ll enjoy. There is a restorative practice and a breath work practice during this week which are both great for anxiety relief.
I also have a 20 minute practice for anxiety relief that includes the poses in this post. I will put the video below.