Feeling Anxious? Yoga Can Help!

We’re lucky to live in an age when we can have open, honest conversations about mental health. Gone are the days of suffering in silence. Personally, I struggle with anxiety & if you’re like me you’re looking for a way to manage your stress levels too.

I’ve always been an anxious person. If I wake up any later than my usual 5am, I’m immediately stressed because the morning feels wasted. & I always try to get my exercise in early because if I wait until the evening, I spend the day worrying about whether I’ll actually find the time to work out.

If stressors like these resonate with you, try yoga! Yoga helps to sift through the layers of the self & bring to surface the happiest, most cohesive, most resilient you. Beyond just doing the postures, listing & responding to the teacher’s adjustments can have a calming effect on a jumbled psyche. While I first started doing yoga purely for fitness, my practice has evolved into something I can’t mentally live without.

On the mat, time does not exist. You are not early, you are not late. No breath is wasted & every movement has a purpose. You literally cannot worry when you’re truly focused on opening your front hip, bringing your front big toe into view & grounding through your back foot in Warrior II. The doubts & insecurities that usually reverberate through your mind are drowned out by the count & the breath & the soft, pleasant crackle of positive energy. The energy of shared joy. The energy of life.

But sometimes, at the close of class - when the lights have faded & the sweat has dried & the body is at rest - your anxiety might begin to tug at your mat, refusing to be ignored. Contrary as it may sound, rather than shutting it out, open your palms just the smallest bit wider & embrace your anxiety. Carefully let it flow through you & then run a systems check.

How is my anxiety affecting me right now?

Does this posture have a calming effect or an irritating effect?

If irritating, how can I adjust my body in order to reduce my discomfort?

Do I have a better hold on my anxiety after that hour on my mat?

While yoga can be a wonderful escape, always try to embrace any issues that make an appearance. Facing your fears on the mat is far less scary than off the mat, anyway. You’re never truly alone because yoga is a powerful practice shared by many!

When I’m on my mat, my practice is mine.

When you’re on your mat, your practice is yours.

Wear your mat like a cape & use your practice to work through any negative emotions you might be feeling. No matter whether you complete the Ashtanga Primary Series or lay in Child’s Pose for an hour, you showed up, you practiced & you made it through the first breath, & the next, & the next, to the last. That makes you Wonder Woman in my book.