Do you worry about anxiety? Me too. After the fabulous clothes (like cute yoga pants), finding a non- pharmaceutical fix for anxiety is a top reason people take up yoga. Whether you suffer from a diagnosed disorder or grapple with generalized malaise, yoga can clear your mind of panic. Below are some poses to alleviate your worries—not all of them (that would be a very long post), but a good starting point for an anti-anxiety yoga regimen.
The Big Toe Pose, or Padangusthasana
This pose lengthens tight hamstrings. If you live through this, you’ll be grateful enough to never worry about anything ever again.
One: Stand with your feet six inches apart. Using your adductor muscles on insides of your thighs, lift your kneecaps. Exhale and bend forward from your hips, keeping your legs as straight as possible.
Two: Grip each foot with your fingers. If you cannot reach your toes, modify with an elastic band until you can perform without rounding your back.
Three: Inhale, lift your torso without letting go of your feet, straighten your elbows and lengthen your torso. Exhale again and lift your sitting bones. Release your hamstrings and exhale, lifting your belly toward the back of your pelvis.
Four: Lift the top of your breastbone as high as you can without lifting your head and compressing the back of your neck. Keep your forehead relaxed.
Five: Inhale while lifting your torso, contract your front thigh, lift your sitting bones, and relax your hamstrings.
Six: Exhale, bend your elbows out, pull up on your toes, lengthen your torso and lower your back into forward bend.
Seven: Advanced yogis, Plastic Woman, and/or those with unusually long hamstrings can pull their foreheads to their shins here. Everyone else should ignore this and focus on gritting your teeth and breathing.
Eight: Hold the final position for one full minute. Release your toes, bring your hands to your hips, and re-lengthen your front torso. Inhale, swing your torso and head back to an upright and standing position.
The Cat Pose, or Marjaryasana
This pose stretches out the back and neck muscles and gently massages the spine area and intestinal organs. Not only is it far more pleasant to perform than the Big Toe Pose, it also relieves stress in the lower back and increases flexibility for forward and backbends. It’s thought to be conducive to increased emotional balance and stability of the mind.
One: Begin on your hands and knees in the table position with your knees shoulder length apart and your upper body perpendicular to the floor. Your knees must be directly below your hips. Your head should be in a neutral position, with your eyes on the floor.
Two: Exhale, round your spine upward to ceiling, lifting the middle of your back upward as if it were attached by a string to the middle of your spine. Keep your shoulders and knees in the same position. While lifting, release your head from the neutral position, but do not push into your chest.
Three: Inhale and return to a neutral, table position. Repeat.
Child’s Pose, or Balasana
This pose makes you feel better immediately, and that’s why I’ve saved it for last. It releases tension in the back, neck and shoulders; where most people store stress. It also fosters relaxation by encouraging conscious notice of breathing.
One: Kneel with your big toes touching, then separate your knees about as wide as your hips. Your hands should be directly under your arms.
Two: Exhale, bow forward between your legs. Rest your chest between your thighs and bring your forehead to the mat.
Three: Extend your arms out in front of you and place your hands on the floor, palms up. Breathe and hold this position for as long as you desire. When finished, use your hands to walk back to an upright and sitting position.
Breathe easy and enjoy the rest of your day!