5-Minute Yoga for Anxiety Relief
What Is the Most Important Aspect of Yoga?
Yoga isn't just about stretching and flexibility, and it's not just about strength and balance. Sure, those are important components, but they aren't the only focus, and they shouldn't be the main focus of a yoga practice.
The most important aspect of yoga and the essence of yoga is the breath. Breathing deeply is the most important part of yoga, and if you are breathing deeply, then you are doing yoga. We breathe deeply to get in touch with how we feel and to quiet the mind. Focusing on the breath gives the "monkey mind" something to do.
The next most important part of yoga is to feel something. We focus on breath and sensation. We get connected to how we are feeling. Where do you feel the stretch? Does it feel good or uncomfortable? How does your body feel?
Before you begin, remember that yoga should never hurt. If something hurts, back out of the pose until you feel a gentle stretch. If it hurts, stop immediately. There is a difference between being slightly uncomfortable in a new stretch and pain. Do not move into a painful place. Move into awareness and sensation.
There is no such thing as a perfect pose. The perfect pose is the one that works for where you are today. It doesn't matter how your pose looks. What matters is how it feels. You are beginning a yoga practice, not a yoga perfect.
5-Minute Yoga and Breathing Practice
Yoga for Anxiety Relief
- Begin standing or comfortably seated
- With your eyes closed, begin taking slow, deep breaths. Focus on your exhale. Long, deep exhales are relaxing to the nervous system.
- Bring your awareness into your body, noticing what feels achy, what feel stiff, and where in your body you are holding tension or anxiety. You don't need to fix anything. Just notice the sensations in your body.
- Inhaling deeply, slowly reach arms overhead. As you exhale, bring arms comfortably to your sides for Mountain Pose. In Mountain Pose, feel your feet pressing firmly into the ground, bringing you stability and a calm mind. Feel the strength in your legs, moving upward from the ground and into your body. Feel strong, stable, centered and calm. Breathe deeply in mountain pose.
- On the next inhale, reach arms overhead, stretching fingertips toward the sky. As you exhale, hinge forward from the hips and rest your hands or your elbows on your knees, for Supported Forward Fold.
- Gently lean forward, allow your torso to rest slightly on your knees, feeling safe, secure and protected. Breathe deeply as you lean against your thighs with your eyes closed.
- On the next inhale, slowly return to standing, arms reaching overhead, fingertips reaching toward the sky. As you exhale, move into Chair Pose. If you are standing, bring your hands to your heart center, and drop your hips back, as though you are sitting on a chair. Your knees are bent, your hips pressing back. If you are seated in a chair, bring your hands to your heart.
- Inhaling, reach arms overhead. As you exhale, return to chair pose, standing or seated. Repeat this series 3-5 times, inhaling as you stretch skyward and exhaling into chair, getting the blood flowing. Gently increasing your heart rate helps move stress-causing hormones through your body and out.
- Continue flowing through Chair Pose, this time, rotating the spine slightly to touch the opposite arm to the opposite knee. Inhale back to Mountain Pose, then rotate to the other side. Repeat this Rotating Chair Pose two or three times on each side.
- Inhale deeply, coming back to Mountain Pose. As you exhale, slowly hinge at the hips and bring your hands to your knees, or continue lowering hands to the floor for Standing Forward Fold or Seated Forward Fold. Inhaling, return to Mountain Pose. As you exhale, return to Chair Pose. Repeat this sequence two or three times, moving from Mountain Pose, to Forward Fold, to Mountain Pose, to Chair Pose, to Mountain. Inhale as you lengthen and straighten into Mountain, then exhale as you move into Chair or Forward Fold. This series enlivens the body by oxygenating the muscles and deepening the breath.
- Come back to Mountain Pose. Stand firm and strong, feeling the earth beneath your feet. Feel stable, connected and balanced in Mountain Pose. Standing or sitting comfortable, prepare for the final pose, a breathing practice called Foghorn Breath. Gently draw the shoulders down and away from the ears. Stand or sit tall, feet connected with the earth, arms resting by the sides or on the lap.
- Close the eyes and inhale deeply through the nose. As you exhale, allow the air to vibrate the back of the throat, making a sound similar to a foghorn. This may sound like a long, low moan or hum. Continue exhaling completely, slowly and naturally, until there is no more air to exhale.
- Repeat the Foghorn Breath two or three times, breathing deeply and completely. This deep breathing exercise helps reduce anxiety by stimulating the Vagus Nerve in the body. As the nerve is gently stimulated, it relaxes the body and releases Endorphins into the bloodstream. This helps calm the central nervous system and decrease anxiety.
Relaxation Breathing and Anxiety Control
Do you ever feel anxious or stressed, and have you ever tried deep breathing to manage your stress?
The Benefits of Regular Yoga Practice
A regular yoga practice can be a great addition to any exercise regimen. Not only will you find your recovery time better, but you will be faster and stronger as a result of regular yoga.
In addition, flexibility and balance are leading indicators for healthy aging, As we get older, these are two aspects of our physical fitness that can rapidly decline. Lack of flexibility and balance can lead to falls, broken bones and overall poor health. A regular yoga practice can help improve your balance and flexibility, and your confidence as you grow older.
Finally, yoga emphasizes deep breathing. Deep breathing helps relax the body and reduces stress. A regular practice of deep, mindful breathing releases endorphins into the body, counteracting the negative effects of cortisone. When you breathe deeply, your bring the body out of "fight or flight" mode, and into "restore and relax" mode. In this calm place, the body feels safe and is able to function at a higher level.
And don't let the excuse, "I'm too stiff," to keep you from trying yoga. The point of doing yoga is to increase flexibility, not to begin by being flexible. You can start today, exactly where you are. Breathe deeply, tune in to how your body feels, and move slowly. You can do this. You can try yoga. It only takes five minutes!
My Journey With Yoga, Massage, and Life Coaching
I am a certified yoga instructor, massage therapist, and life coach. I want to help everyone achieve their best life, today. Using the tools I've learned in yoga, massage and life coaching, I want to help you improve your life from the inside out.
Yoga is an important component of a complete life, as it combines the essence of breath, movement and feeling. Practicing yoga daily will help with your peace of mind, as well as balance and flexibility.
As I get older, I realize that some things that I used to do are no longer comfortable, so I have adjusted my yoga practice to be realistic for every body type, regardless of age, size, fitness level or experience.
Join me on the journey, as we explore yoga and the benefits of breathing and feeling.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.