HomeHealth & WellnessNeed to Chill? Try Yoga for Anxiety

Need to Chill? Try Yoga for Anxiety

Relieve stress with simple yoga poses

Believe it or not, yoga existed long before classes with loud music, goats, and beer came along.  While playing with furry animals and trying to follow the bendy Jane doe next to you as a teacher shouts instructions from the front of the room is fun (?), yoga poses can be used at home or on the go as a remedy for common afflictions like stress. In fact, you can use yoga for anxiety anywhere and anytime

That’s right, there are highly-effective, basic and advanced yoga poses that can slow and stop your anxiety before and after it progresses. These poses take the edge off of a mild agitation, calm seriously strained nerves and can even stop a panic attack in its tracks. Best of all, you don’t have to drop hundreds of bucks on yoga gear or squeeze into a packed class to get the benefits and regain your zen.

The following are 5 yoga poses for anxiety:

yoga for anxiety, childs pose
Child’s Pose

Start on your hands and knees, then bring your toes together behind you and place your knees wide while reaching your bottom towards your heels. If it doesn’t reach all of the way, you can fill the extra space with a blanket or bolster.  Reach your hands in front of you and place your head on the floor, block or blanket for support. 

Breath. Inhale to the count of three and exhale to the count of four. As you exhale sink deeper into the pose by reaching your hands and hips away from one and other.

yoga for anxiety

Standing Forward Fold

Getting your head below your heart staves off anxiety that is building or coming in waves. Stand with your feet hips with apart and hands at your sides. Bend forward at the hips keeping your legs straight and strong. You can place your fingertips on the ground by your feet or hold opposite elbows with your hands. Release your head, neck, and shoulders. 

Begin the same breath pattern mentioned above, releasing deeper into the pose on each exhalation.

Remember to stay rooted with your feet pressing firmly into the ground while lifting and firming your thigh muscles.

yoga for anxiety

Downward Dog

Sometimes when you are anxious you need to burn extra energy before you can engage in the more restful yoga poses for anxiety. Whole downward dog is a restful pose, it takes strength and some work to hold.

Begin on your hands and knees. The fingers on your hands should be spread wide with the middle finger pointing forward. Curl your toes under and lift your hips up and back while pressing firmly into the ground with both hands.  Begin to lower your heels toward the ground. It’s ok if they don’t reach it. Release your head and neck and begin to breathe.  Hold downward dog for between one to two minutes and then release into child’s pose while maintaining your breathing.  Repeat as many times as needed.

yoga for anxiety

Eagle Pose

Requiring balance and focus, eagle pose is best practiced as your nerves begin to calm. Standing with feet at hips width and arms by your sides. Begin to lift your right foot off of the ground as being your arms to cross at the elbows in front of you with your left elbow over the right. Bend at the knees and cross your right knee over the left hooking the front of the right foot around the back of the left calf to the best of your ability. Simultaneously, bend your arms at the elbows bringing your right hand around the outer side of your left forearm until palms come together in front of your gaze.  Focus your gaze on your hands, balance, and breath.  Release and switch sides.

yoga for anxiety

Headstand (against or close to a wall) 

This is an advanced pose that should only be used by those who have been practicing it for a while. While you may be capable of practicing headstand in the middle of the room, you should do this pose near or against a wall while experiencing anxiety.

Begin on your hands and knees. Come to your forearms and clasp your hands together loosely. Press your forearms into the ground firmly while placing the crown of your head on the floor between  your cupped palms. Curl your toes under and lift your hips up and back. Walk your feet towards your face and the either lift both legs simultaneously up to the wall or lift them one at at time. Do not kick up! It poses a danger to the health of your neck.

Hold this pose for up to 5 minutes. 

Stress can wreak havoc on your lifestyle.  You don’t necessarily have to turn to heavy meds to find relief. Next time you feel you brow begin to furrow or your shoulders begin to bunch turn to yoga for anxiety. For the most part, the poses are simple, extremely effective, and can be done anywhere (goats not included) making them perfect for women who travel.


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Annette Benedetti
Annette Benedetti
Annette is a writer, editor and photographer from Portland, OR. Her work appears in a variety of publications including Bust, Red Tricycle, Motherly and Domino. When she’s away from her desk she can be found teaching women yoga at wilderness retreats, exploring new cities across the states and hiking the trails at Mt. Rainier—one of her favorite places on earth.