Yoga is great for many things. One of its many health benefits is its ability to relieve symptoms of anxiety and reduce mental stress. It’s estimated that over 40 million adults in the United States alone suffer from some form of anxiety. In fact, it is the most common mental illness in the country. Yoga helps to shift the mind’s focus onto the body and breathing, reducing anxiety and relieving stress. Yoga will also help to reduce the physical tension you may feel in your muscles and joints due to anxiety and stress. Use these poses to help your mind relax and encourage your body to feel more at peace.
#1: Eagle Pose
This pose requires extreme focus and balance, so it helps to shift the mind’s focus to the body.
How you do it: Begin by standing with your feet together, big toes touching. Lift your arms over head on an inhale and cross your right arm underneath your left. Bring your palms to touch, you should feel a good stretch in your shoulders. Lift your arms so that your forearms are perpendicular to the ground and your upper arms are parallel. Sit your pelvis down slightly. Ground down through your left foot and pull up on your left thigh. Lift your right leg and cross it over your left as high as possible. Try to double wrap your leg if possible, once over your thigh and again with your foot around your calf. Sit deeper into the pose, and try to lift your gaze up towards the ceiling or sky. Hold the pose for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
#2: Child’s Pose
This pose is typically used as a rest after practice, however it can be used anytime to calm the body and mind.
How you do it: Begin in a table top position. Move your knees to slightly wider than hips-width distance apart and bring your toes to touch. On an exhale sit back onto your calves and feet, resting your forehead on your mat or the floor brining your arms down by your side. Hold this pose for two to three minutes, breathing deeply throughout. Really focus on the breath and try to move it into where your body needs relief the most.
#3: Half Moon Pose
This pose really focuses on balance, which again helps to shift the mind’s focus to the body and stability.
How you do it: Begin by standing with your feet together, big toes touching. On an inhale raise your arms above your head and exhale as your fold forward. Bring your hands on either side of your feet and lift your right leg straight back behind you so that it is parallel to the floor. Rotate your hips so that they are virtually stacked on top of each other. Raise your right arm straight up and bring your gaze parallel to the floor or if you can, look up towards the ceiling or sky. Hold for three to four breaths and then release. Repeat on the other side.