If you’re someone who struggles with anxiety–remember, you’re not alone. Anxiety has become a common part of our lives. From work to relationships, it seems there’s often something that triggers feelings of stress, concern, or dread. Common symptoms include feeling restless, racing thoughts, difficulty controlling your breathing, trouble sleeping, and more.
For some, feeling anxious is a constant state. For others, it comes and goes depending on the day and situation. Regardless, anxiety takes a toll on our well-being, so it’s helpful for everyone to have some anxiety-reducing poses in your regular yoga practice!
Here are three poses you can do whenever you start to feel anxious (with no yoga experience necessary):
1. Child’s Pose
Child’s pose is known as a place of rest. In a class setting, it’s often used to relax and regroup between more challenging poses.
How to do it
From all fours:
Slowly sit back over your heels.
Bend forward from the hips until your chest is resting on your thighs and your head is resting on your yoga mat.
Release your arms alongside your body or stack your hands toward the front of the mat and rest your head on your forearms.
Hold this position for 5-10 breaths (always do what feels good to you!).
Why it helps: If you’re struggling with anxiety, you may have trouble controlling your breathing. This pose encourages you to focus on taking steady conscious breaths. Plus, it helps to release tension in the body where many carry it the most: the back, neck, and shoulders.
2. Tree Pose
Finding balance in tree pose requires your full concentration, which can be useful in quieting anxious and racing thoughts. It also activates several muscle groups including your abs and quads.
How to do it:
From a standing position with feet hip-width apart:
Shift your weight to your right foot as you slowly bend your left knee and lift your left foot off the ground.
Place the sole of your left foot onto your inner right thigh, toes pointing toward the floor.
If you’re struggling to balance, stand near a wall for support. You can also place your foot just below your knee or on your calf if that’s easier (Just go above or below the knee to avoid pressing into it)
Center your pelvis directly over your right foot.
Bring your hands up into a prayer position with thumbs at your heart center.
Hold for 2 to 3 breaths (or however long feels comfortable to you!)
Exhale and lower left foot back to the floor. Repeat on the other side.
Why it helps: This is a fundamental pose to help ease anxiety. Since tree pose calls for you to focus on balance, it forces your mind to concentrate and brings awareness to the present moment, away from any negative or nervous thoughts.
3. Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose
As a restorative pose, legs-up-the-wall is known for promoting relaxation and ease. It’s a pose that can be done almost anywhere!
How to do it:
Begin seated and facing the wall:
Place your butt about 6 inches from the wall and lay back.
Put your legs up on the wall and place your arms by your sides with your palms facing up. You’ll feel a stretch in your hamstrings – if the stretch is too intense you can push your butt slightly away from the wall.
Close your eyes and soften your face, neck, and back. Imagine your body is melting into the floor.
While focusing on your breath, hold this pose for up to 10 minutes. To release, gently bend your knees and bring your legs off the wall.
Avoid this pose if you are pregnant, menstruating, or if you have serious eye problems, such as glaucoma. If you have serious neck or back issues, you should learn this with a teacher present.
Why it helps: This pose helps to ease anxiety by relieving lower back tension and allows you to be still with your breath. If possible, practice somewhere quiet to experience the full benefits.
Anxiety might be a part of your everyday life, but it doesn’t have to be. Keep these three poses in mind whenever you start to feel anxious.
If you’re interested in making yoga a more regular part of your routine, learn more about how 19 Minute Yoga can help reduce anxiety symptoms with simple sequences you can do anywhere, in 19 minutes or less.