Yoga for Anxiety


Lots of people including  me start yoga because they are feeling anxious. There are, as we know, many physical benefits to practising yoga, but yoga can make a big difference to mood and  to helping you cope with life.

I started yoga when I was doing a job I hated but had recently retrained for through the open university  -teaching modern languages in a secondary school where the support and resources were limited, the result being I felt anxious and stressed much of the time. When I look back on those days now I  can see that I was actually doing incredibly well, surviving in a new job, bringing up two children on my own having moved to a new place away from family support  but at the time I thought I was ‘going under’ and felt very jittery and close to the edge  a lot of the time. I wasn’t sleeping well; felt constantly off par and exhausted and  can honestly say that yoga felt like a life saver to me.

What helped me was going to a weekly yoga class where the atmosphere was peaceful accepting and non judgemental and which introduced me to a range of techniques that I could bring into my daily life such as calming breathing and gentle stretches linked to the breath. It was a revelation -coming into ‘being’ mode rather than ‘doing’ and ‘achieving’ -moving away from being on high alert to a more peaceful, inward looking state.

I found deep relaxation very helpful. As well as the relaxation at the end of the class I invested in some relaxations to listen to at home lying on mat, wrapped up in a blanket. I particularly liked the relaxations by Julie Friedeberger as I found her voice very calming and reassuring. I still listen to them now. Since then I have also found that taking a bit of time to meditate every day is a really useful tool for bringing me into the moment and helping to keep anxiety at bay.

There are postures that can be particularly helpful if you are feeling anxious especially poses that bring your focus more inward such as pose of a child or forward bends though you may need to start off with a more active sequence if you feel particularly on edge. A useful book is ‘Yoga for Anxiety (meditations and practices for calming the body and mind)’ by Mary Nurrie Stearns nad Rick Nurrie Stearns.

Do you ever suffer from anxiety? If so  I’d love to know what works well for you.

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