How Yoga can help you with overcoming stress and anxiety
Yoga, meaning ‘unity’, is a spiritual and physical discipline deriving from Ancient India. Yoga in the West is widely known for its physical and mental benefits by adopting specific postures ‘asanas’ which increase flexibility and strength alongside gaining mental clarity and improving concentration. The traditional practice of yoga, however, is made up of many different aspects such as breath control ‘pranayama’, meditation and bodily cleansing ‘shatkarma’ alongside the physical postures more commonly used as a form of exercise in the west. These physical postures alongside meditation are not only an excellent way of keeping physically healthy but also provide a way to relieve stress and anxiety. Asanas can be used to help achieve a healthy mind and body, allowing the mind to solely concentrate on the posture as well as releasing tension and negativity kept within the body. The practice of pranayama’s relieves anxiety and stress by taking attention to your breath and freeing the mind of unnecessary negative thoughts that cause stress anxiety. For centuries Meditation has been used to bring awareness of the mind and our own thoughts, and providing a way to relax the mind and give a sense of peace. Whilst studying law at university I often felt overwhelmed with anxiety and pressure. Yoga allowed me to release all my inhibitions and was the perfect way for my body to alleviate the stress and bad energy trapped inside, as well as allowing me to gain mental clarity and concentrate on my self and see beyond my concerns during my degree. This essay will analyse and discuss the ways in which yoga and meditation provides a way to overcome stress and anxiety, and the asanas and techniques best used when doing so.
Three Asanas to help overcome stress and anxiety.
Taking attention to the breath can free the mind of unnecessary bad thoughts and energy that causes us to be overwhelmed by stress and anxiety. The cooling pranayama exercise called shitali (where your inhale through an O shape made by your tongue, and exhale through your nose), is an excellent way of overcoming anxiety. Ten rounds of this breathing exercise will cool the body and relax the muscles. This exercise also reduces mental and emotional blockages and helps to gain overall mental clarity.
Since the 1970’s Western cultures began to discover how the practice of Yoga and meditation could be used to relieve symptoms of anxiety and stress. Although Western medical literature has not deeply researched these methods, the practice of yoga and meditation as a release from stress and anxiety in western society has become increasingly popular in recent years, and is the best way for me to deal with these issues.
About the author:
Lucy lives in the UK and recently finished her Law Degree. After University, she decided to travel to India to gain deeper insights about yoga and spirituality. She has completed her 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training at Gyan Yog Breath in Rishikesh, India. You can watch her video about the yoga teacher training and overall experience here.