6 Yoga Postures to Soothe Anxiety

Anxiety can be overwhelming. Sometimes it can be experienced as a constant underlying feeling of general unease, fear and feeling on edge. Other times it might come as an all encompassing attack of panic or feeling of being completely out of control.

One of the aspects of living with anxiety that can be especially difficult to deal with and can actually worsen symptoms is feeling like it has to be hidden. Fortunately there seems to be a cultural shift in the way we talk about mental health which challenges stigma and helps sufferers of anxiety, and other issues, to let go of shame. Being able to talk openly about our emotional well-being can be key to shifting into a happier and healthier place. Some of these feelings can be released by choosing to join a spiritual yoga retreats or even a Multi-Style Yoga Teacher Training ( for a deeper understanding and practice).

I have had ongoing issues with anxiety for as long as I can remember and have tried and tested all kinds of different techniques to manage it! I’ve had CBT, EMDR, talking therapy, homeopathy and read about 100 self-help books. All of these are great methods and can be life changing for some people. But the path that has personally been the most beneficial and consistently helpful for me has been yoga.

After practicing yoga everyday for 3 years, I can say that my anxiety feels at about 5% present rather than 90% present which it was in the past. There’s no end point of being “fixed” though, I am fully open to the fact that there will be moments where it comes back in full force. But I now feel much more equipped to deal with it thanks to my yoga practice.

How Yoga Helps to Soothe Anxiety

Yoga provides us with appropriate practices to access our core and our true Self, ultimately drawing us in close to our centre. Things like anxiety draw us away from our stable centre and yoga is a way to gently draw the focus back in. 

Yoga actually creates the necessary conditions for our nervous system to self-soothe and self-regulate which trains resilience. Resilience is the capacity to bounce back from challenges. It doesn't mean never falling, it means learning how to get back up again each time you stumble. 

Yoga specifically helps with anxiety by engaging the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the body’s “rest and digest” mode where healing takes place and the whole body can relax.

Seated Meditation

Simply taking a deep breath can help to get you out of an overactive hyper alert state and into a calmer place. Find a comfortable seat, and begin to notice the belly and chest fill up with air as you inhale and release again as you exhale. Placing one hand over your chest and one hand over your belly can really help to bring awareness to the subtle movements that the breath makes in the body.

Cat Cow

From an all 4s position, move in a continuous flow inhaling to drop the belly and gaze forward, exhaling to round the back and take the focus inwards. This helps you to focus on the breath. It’s a great warm up before any yoga practice and helps to centre you.

From an all 4s position, move in a continuous flow inhaling to drop the belly and gaze forward, exhaling to round the back and take the focus inwards. This helps you to focus on the breath. It’s a great warm up before any yoga practice and helps to centre you.

Plank

Either half plank on knees or full plank with the knees lifted and back body in one long line, spread your fingers and keep your shoulders above your wrists. Strength building postures like plank can help to focus the mind and engage the body so that it feels better able to relax after the practice in contrast.

Chair

Chair is a fantastic posture to train resilience. From standing sit the bum back and down as though you are going to sit in a chair, hold. You will start to feel the heat building in your thighs and it will require effort and determination to hold this posture. This helps to train resilience by putting the body under just a little bit of stress in a controlled way, teaching yourself that stress can be safe.

Legs Up The Wall


With your bum up close to the base of the wall rest your legs on the wall above the hips and relax your upper body. This one is great to hold for a full 5 minutes or more, really getting comfortable maybe with a pillow under the head or a cushion under the lower back. It helps to tap you into that “rest and digest” mode and is an excellent posture for relieving anxiety, particularly when taken after a strength building sequence.

Extended Savasana

Lie on your back completely relaxed, feet flopping out to each side. Gift yourself some extra time to unwind and relax deeply in Savasana. One of the most useful things you can do for anxiety is find ways to let go, relax the body and focus on the breath. Savasana after your asana (posture) practice can end up being one of the most important postures you’ll ever do!

By Jasmine Sara (link to website http://jasminesarayoga.wordpress.com)

Teaching at Akasha on our Summer retreats July / August / September. Book here: https://www.akasharetreat.com/yogaretreats