Yoga for anxiety

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is the inner turmoil created from the negative anticipation of future events. It is accompanied by nervous behavior and can physically affect the body, especially if it is allowed to continue long term without treatment. Anxiety triggers the “fight or flight” response in the body the same as fear does, but fear is triggered by a real or immediate perceived threat, whereas anxiety is an apprehension about potential pressures or dangers. When the adrenaline produced by the “fight or flight” response is overproduced in the body, it can lead to fatigue, nervous traits such as nail-biting, and high blood pressure, etc.

The effect yoga has on anxiety

Yoga has many beneficial aspects to combat anxiety. One beneficial quality of Yoga can be the focusing of the mind on the present. Yogic stretching, controlled breathing, and meditation all pull our attention inwards. The practice of directing our minds to the present serves to remind us of what is important. If we are concentrating on potential events far in the future all the time, we tend to trip over what is immediately in front of us. Taking our awareness into our body also helps us to stay aware of how we are coping and reacting to stress.

The body mimics our state of mind, and yoga works to relax both. Stretching opens the meridians or invisible energy pathways throughout the body, allowing old energy and emotions to dissipate. Controlled breathing can also serve to release stored emotions and thought patterns in the body. A symptom of anxiety is shorter, rapid breath in the upper chest region. Yoga practices encourage the student to breathe slower and deeper from the lower belly, which functions to slow everything down and allow release of tensions.

The meditation component of Yoga creates emotional resilience, whereby the student uses discipline to gain more control of their thoughts. Increased self-esteem is another benefit as the mind and body become healthier through regular yogic practice. Regular yoga practice is a proven