Feeling anxious, tired, stiff or a little tightly spun? Today’s gentle yoga for anxiety workout is for you. In this 8 minute video I’ll walk you through five gentle stress-busting yoga poses that you can do every day to stretch your muscles and switch off your mind.
It’s very cool to be good at yoga these days but unfortunately — not really! — I’m neither particularly cool or good at yoga. I don’t like the heated studios that have taken over the yoga community, and I also have a really hard time slowing down my busy brain and staying in the zone. So I don’t go all that often.
Saying that, there are a few yoga poses that I absolutely love, and the five that I’m showing you in today’s video are at the top of that list. These moves are the reason that I’ll try to hit the mat once every week or two, and they’re what I call on at home to soothe both body and brain.
As I’m not a yoga teacher, or a particularly loyal student, I’m teaching this series in my own novice way (pros: consider yourself warned). This sequence is designed to help you reduce anxiety and calm your central nervous system, which means we will be moving slowly.
Being able to slow down and enjoy the movement experience is much more important than the poses themselves. Don’t worry about getting from A-to-B with any great haste and remember that you’re here to learn how to use the body to unwind the mind.
Here are the poses that you’ll be doing:
Here’s why you’ll like it: As a balancing pose, Tree will make you feel more grounded. With one foot firmly rooted into the floor you know that you are safe and stable in your own life, while the lightness and length of the spine helps elevate your energy (and reminds you that there’s always room to grow).
Here’s what you need to know: Keep the lifted foot AWAY from the knee-cap; be true to your body and keep your joints safe!
Seated Spinal Twist
Here’s why you’ll like it: This pose is energizing for the spine, a great stretch in the shoulders, hips and neck, and stimulating for the digestive system. I know when I feel anxious that my gut gets all knotted up, so I use this pose to gently wring out that tension.
Here’s what you need to know: If you struggle to sit upright try sitting on a folded blanket to decompress your low back. Got back or neck issues? Move gently or avoid this posture.
(Modified) Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose
Here’s why you’ll like it: Reversing circulation in the legs relieves fatigue in the lower limbs. Some also say that changing the direction of blood flow gives you a new perspective on life… check it out for yourself and see what you think.
Here’s what you need to know: This pose is an inversion, which means you need to avoid it if you have serious eye problems, such as glaucoma, or neck/back problems. You can also let your legs rest against the wall if that’s more comfortable for you.
Here’s why you’ll like it: Many people don’t like Pigeon pose because it can feel pretty intense, but those knots in your hips may represent blockages in your life — hips don’t lie, as Shakira so enthusiastically reminds us! At a minimum that tightness is a result of your sedentary lifestyle and adding movement and breath will bring a lot of relief.
Here’s what you need to know: For knee issues you will want to take the modification OR try these hip stretches, including a seated-chair-pigeon pose (much more gentle on the knees and back).
Here’s why you’ll like it: This pose requires nothing of you, which is not something that you can say about many activities in your day-to-day life. Lay back, relax and let gravity do its job.
Here’s what you need to know: If you feel tension in the low back you can roll a small blanket and place it under the knees. Once settled, focus on your breath, imagine that your body is melting through the floor and let thoughts come and go without blocking them or engaging with them.
Yoga For Anxiety: 5 Poses To Unwind Body & Mind
Now I’d Love To Hear From You
What daily practices do you use to help reduce anxiety? Let me know by leaving a comment below.