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What yoga poses can relieve anxiety?

Kristin M. McGee
Yoga Expert Specialist

I find the deep breathing in all yoga postures helps to quell anxiety. When we are anxious we tend to take short, shallow breaths. Yoga teaches us to slow down our breathing and take in full deep breaths. When we breathe fully and deeply we calm our parasympathetic nervous system which helps us feel less anxious and more relaxed. Also the concentration and focus required to practice yoga helps us stay present and in the moment instead of racing ahead of ourselves which can definitely lead to more anxiety. Some of my favorite anti-anxiety postures are tree pose, downward facing dog pose, child's pose and legs up the wall.

Any form of yoga, and any yoga poses can relieve stress and anxiety, but the forms of yoga best known to relieve stress and anxiety include Hatha and restorative yoga. Both form of yoga, focus on gentle easy to perform movements and poses and on heavy amounts of deep breathing and meditation. The bio feedback that comes from these forms of yoga can help reduce feelings of anxiety and improve feelings of calm and well-being.

If you are anxious, the best medicine is the breath. Use your breath to focus your mind and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The PNS alleviates the effects of overstimulation of your sympathetic nervous system (SYS), which generates stress when your body is anxious. Restorative yoga poses are often used to calm the nervous system and to move our bodies and minds away from anxiousness or stress. In these postures, your body is supported effortlessly, allowing you to focus more on your breath and bringing your body back into balance.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.