Anxiety is a funny thing – many people dismiss daily anxiety as being a personality trait. “I’ve always been a worrier” “My brain never stops”. The truth is that Anxiety is a survival mechanism, and is not intended to be used on a daily basis. If you find yourself constantly worrying, perhaps it’s time to take control of the situation. Here are 3 easy ways + 3 easy yoga poses to start kicking anxiety to the curb.
Pay attention to your triggers
Knowing what sets you off is a powerful way of understanding how you can stay on top of the things that stress you out the most. For example, if you know that waking up to a sink full of dirty dishes is a trigger for you to feel anxiety, take proactive steps to avoid the trigger. Do the dishes right after dinner, and you won’t wake up to a stressful mess.
Find a way to calm yourself down
Another tool we can use for helping to ease anxiety is to surrender to it a little bit. Taking 5 minutes each morning to simply sit with how you’re feeling can go a long way to setting the tone for your day. My advice is to allow yourself to feel whatever emotions come up to their fullest intensity – for just 5 minutes. It will not be easy, but give it a try and see how you feel for the remainder of the day. Sometimes anxiety is like a small child, just looking for a bit of attention – positive or negative.
Challenging the fears that cause anxiety means that you are facing you inner turmoil head-on, and there is no better way to curb your worries than asking yourself “What am I worried about?”
There are simple things that you have access to that some people in the world never will. Clean, running water, food, shelter, electricity, people who love them. What can you be grateful for today? It doesn’t have to be complicated – gratitude for clean air, for freedom, for an amazing cup of coffee. Finding things to be thankful for is a powerful practice that helps you bring things into perspective.
Breath Comes First
Whenever you feel the onset of anxiety, take a moment to breathe first. Practicing deep breathing stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system, which has been proven time and time again to relieve stress and anxiety.
All it takes are 5 – 10 deep breaths, focusing on breathing into your belly, then filling up your chest and your shoulders. Don’t worry if you have trouble taking deep breaths at first – it will come over time – try to be patient with yourself.
3 Yoga Poses to Ease Anxiety
Here are 3 yoga poses you can do to ease your anxiety: (Please make sure to do a few stretches before you dive into these)
Stand at the top of your mat. Step your right foot back, about half the length of your mat. Just make sure you can point both hip bones to the front side of your mat, and plant your right heel on the floor firmly (You may need to point your toes slightly to the right)
Raise your hands straight up to the sky, bringing your arms beside your ears. Face your palms towards each other.
Bend your left knee deeply. Your knee should be over your ankle – if not, adjust your stance.
Make sure you can see your big toe on the inside of your left knee.
Stay here and take deep breaths into your belly, exhaling out your mouth with big sighs. Hold for 5 – 10 breaths
Do the other side.
2) Half Lord of the Fishes: Twists stimulate the lymphatic system, which improves immune system function, giving you a better chance at staying balanced. Twists also help to balance your Sacral and Solar Plexus Chakras – the energetic centres in your body that regulate creativity, self-esteem and sexuality.
Sit on your mat with your right leg extended in front of you. Bend your left knee, bringing your foot over your right leg, planting it on the outside of your right leg.
Wrap your right arm around your left knee, and take your left hand behind you, planting it on the floor beside your hip.
Look over your shoulder out of the corner of your eye, as far as you can see.
*If you need more stretch out of this pose, bend your bottom leg, bringing your heel to the outside of your left hip.
On the inhale, reach up tall through the crown of your head.
On the exhale, twist a little bit more.
5-10 deep breaths, Repeat on the other side.
3) Wide Legged Forward Fold: Forward folds are about surrendering to gravity, to the moment. This intense stretch helps you to let go of built-up tension in your head, neck & shoulders – areas where most people hold their anxiety.
Stand on your mat, facing the long side. Separate your feet widely. Point your toes slightly inward.
Bring your hands on your hips, and hinge forward from your waist, bringing your torso parallel to the floor.
Then lower your hands onto the floor, a chair or a block. Allow your head and your arms to be heavy.
If your hands don’t easily reach the floor, try grabbing onto your opposite elbows.
If you need more stretch in the pose, walk your hands between your legs on the floor, palms facing down.
10 – 20 deep breaths – inhaling through your nose, and exhaling out your mouth.
These poses have helped people break free from anxiety for many thousands of years. If you suffer from anxiety, you have nothing to lose by trying out a few yoga poses. Surrender to the moment, stay in your body, and focus on your breath.
BONUS! Pose Breakdown: Downward Dog