With an emphasis on the mind-body connection and a focus on breath, yoga may help you center your thoughts and quiet your mind. This is a science-backed belief: Research shows that yoga can provide relief to anxiety sufferers. You may not experience instant relief, and your results will vary, but what matters is that you keep returning to your mat. If you integrate a regular practice into your routine, you will likely begin to experience anxiety-relief over a short amount of time.
Not all yoga poses are best for anxiety, though. Some are best for getting energized or for increasing concentration, while others help us enter a state of relaxation. To make it simple, we’re showing you how to do four yoga poses that can offer relief from anxiety and stress. Feel free to make these poses your own and to hold them for as many breaths as feels useful to you. The best part? You can do these at home in the comfort of your own apartment.
The first two poses can be done as a sequence (commonly referred to as cat-cow poses). First, we’ll explain Cow pose. Begin on hands and knees. On an inhale, drop your belly and reach your tailbone towards the sky while lifting your gaze forward. On your exhale, tuck your chin to your chest and return to Cat pose. Repeat Cat/Cow pose as many times as you’d like.
Now, switch to Cat pose. Begin on your hands and feet in a tabletop position. Your hands should be parallel to your shoulders, and your knees should be below your hips. On an exhale, round your spine and tuck your tailbone while keeping your hands and feet in place. On your exhale, begin Cow pose (below).
Start on your hands and knees in tabletop position. Put your big toes together and spread your knees so they’re as wide as your mat (or at least as close as feels comfortable). On an exhale, bend forward and slowly begin lowering your hips while extending your arms outward, palms planted on your mat until you’re sitting on your heels. Allow your forehead to rest on your mat (It’s times like this when yoga mat spray comes in handy!). With each breath, let your body melt deeper into your mat.
Begin in a standing position with your feet hip-distance apart. On an exhale, begin bending at your waist, allowing your knees to bend as much as they need to. Bend until you can grab the backs of your ankles with your hand. Take a few deep breaths in this position.
Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)
Begin seated on your mat with your legs extended in front of you. Press the tops of your thighs into the floor while turning them slightly inward. Push your hands or fingertips into the mat beside your hip and reach your sternum up towards the sky. On an inhale, lean forward from your hip joints while keeping your torso long. Place your hands on the sides of your feet with your thumbs on the soles, and make sure your elbows are straight.