People are experiencing stress and anxiety increase in the post-pandemic world. There can be any number of causes from financial issues to relationship problems. But in the final analysis, worrying about our problems is self-defeating and clearly does not help us solve our problems, it kind of does the opposite. To actually solve our problems and get rid of anxiety we need a peaceful mind, yoga is all about that. A number of studies have shown that yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety. Yoga can enhance your mood and overall sense of well-being.
In the previous blog posts, we have talked about how yoga can help you get better sleep, improve your concentration, and more. Today we will talk about how yoga enhances your mental well-being and a tailored list of asanas that are especially effective for relieving stress and anxiety.
PRANAYAMA FOR STRESS RELIEF
Pranayama is a set of breath regulation exercises in yoga. It is the fourth limb of Ashtanga Yoga. Practising pranayama has many benefits including enhancement of cognitive performance, regulation of blood pressure, and improved sleep quality. Pranayama is also a process by which you can break your unconscious breathing pattern and make your breath long, smooth and easeful.
The parasympathetic nervous system controls bodily functions when a person is at rest. Stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system reduces our neurophysiological experience of stress. A long and smooth exhalation like the ones you perform while practising pranayama can activate “relaxation response” and support the parasympathetic nervous system, this reduces stress and its effects on our body and mind.
MINDFULNESS FOR ANXIETY
The 7th limb of ashtanga yoga called “dhyana”, which is better known as meditation or mindfulness, can be of great help in enhancing one’s mental well-being. Mindfulness is practised by detaching your attention from your thoughts (be it anxious thoughts or otherwise) and bring your attention to your breath, which brings you to the present moment. This is achieved by practising awareness, identifying tension in the body, understanding your thinking patterns, and learning how to deal with difficult emotions.
ASANAS THAT HELP YOUR MENTAL WELLBEING
1. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
Performing Uttanasana or Standing Forward Bend calms the mind and soothes the nerves thus reducing stress, anxiety, and fatigue. It relieves tension in the spine, neck, and back and activates the abdominal muscles.
Steps to do Uttanasana:
1. Stand up straight and bend forward, rotating your hip joints.
2. Keep your knees straight and place your palms on the floor or hold the back of your ankles.
3. Remain in this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute
2. Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)
This asana also calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression. It stretches the spine, shoulders, hamstrings. It improves digestion and helps relieve the symptoms of menopause and menstrual discomfort.
3.Vrikshasana (Tree Pose)
The Sanskrit word “Vriksha” means tree. Vrikshasana helps with balance and endurance and improves alertness and concentration. It also strengthens the legs and opens the hips.
4. Triangle pose
Trikonasana or triangle pose is a standing pose. It stretches and lengthens the thighs, knees, ankles, hips, groins, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, chest, and spine.
Apart from making you more flexible, Triangle Pose stimulates the abdominal organs, helps relieve stress, and also improves digestion.
Steps to do Trikonasana:
1.Start in mountain pose. Step your feet wide apart as you exhale.
2.Rotate your right foot to a 90-degree angle and inhale as you raise your arms to the sides until they are parallel with the floor.
5. Balasana (Child’s Pose)
It is very relaxing because it relieves tension caused by daily movements by opening your hips and elongating your back. Balasana, also known as child’s pose, relieves lower back pain when performed with head and torso supported. Performing this asana gently stretches the hips, thighs, and ankles. You can stay in Balasana anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes.
To learn these asanas from an expert teacher and practice yoga with the aim to improve your mental wellbeing, don't forget to take a look at our schedule for live yoga classes and join in!