Yoga and Anxiety

In Yoga anxiety is often seen as a rajasic (agitated) state of mind and by what is known in Ayurveda as vata derangement. Sometimes just the slowing down of the mind which accompanies a Yoga practice is enough to reduce anxiety – but sometime we need a more targeted practice.

Yoga has many tools to help with anxiety states, so let us list 2 of the easiest to practice.

  1. Grounding asana practice, especially standing postures and inversions and forward bends.
  2. Pranayama/breath control – particularly deep diaphragmatic breathing.

Breathwork for anxiety is particularly effective and we will discuss two simple methods.

The first method is simple exhaling for longer than you inhale. This stimulates the para sympathetic nervous system.

The second more formal method is using ratio breathing – either 4:8 (breath in for a count of 4 and exhale for a count of 8) OR the slightly more advance 4:7:8 (breathe in for 4, hold the breath for 7 and exhale out for 8). BREATH RETENTIONS MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR THOSE WITH HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE.

Both of the above pranayamas can be done lying, seated or standing.

Remember if your anxiety is long standing or severe always seek professional expert help.