Have you considered adding yoga to your self care routine? Learn 4 poses here that can help alleviate stress, anxiety, and maybe even depression.
As many physical benefits as yoga can have for your body, it was the promise and delivery of mental benefits that truly drew me to the practice and made me stay in the room. These yoga poses for anxiety and depression are simple, yet powerful tools to have in your toolbox.
As you can probably tell from the many yoga studios that have been popping up in your own community–yoga comes in many forms. While I do not claim to be an expert by any means, I have tried a couple of types of yoga and have reaped benefits from each kind of class I walked into. I tend to believe that choosing a type of yoga to commit to is a personal preference and that it has more to do with the vibe of the studio and instructor than it does the name given to the class itself. If you are planning on taking your first foray into the yoga world, take the time to visit a couple of yoga studios and trying the different class offerings before choosing your go to class and instructors.
So, back to those mental benefits. How exactly can the practice of yoga claim to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression? Is this too good to be true? Luckily for all of us, yoga really IS good for the body, mind, and soul. Here are 4 simple poses used in all types of yoga practiced that are actually proven to help alleviate our pesky anxiety and depression:
I mean, this is basically criss-cross-applesauce and who doesn’t love just sitting down on the floor for a minute and closing their eyes? For this pose, choose to sit criss-cross-applesauce or to pull one of your ankles up to cross the other. Then, rest the tops of your hands on your knees, close your eyes and inhale deeply through your nose. Let that air out slowly from your lips and attempt to clear your mind. Deep breathing alone is proven to have HUGE impacts on anxiety and depression and this pose will help focus your body so that you can also focus your mind.
*If you have tighter hips, feel free to sit your hips on a yoga block or folded towel or blanket. There is no need to be uncomfortable!
Another super simple pose to clear the mind and ground your body. For this pose, stand tall with your feet only slightly separated–hips distance is perfect. Pull your shoulders back and keep your hands at your side facing forward. Again, breathe deeply, inhaling to fill your lungs and exhaling every piece of that breath back out. (A yoga teacher once told me: “Inhale the good shit, exhale the bullshit”–and that is EXACTLY what I do.)
Ahh, what could be better than feeling like a child again for a couple of minutes? Child’s pose is considered a resting pose during a yoga class and provides an amazing stretch through your hips and shoulders. This pose brings about a feeling of rest but also a feeling of safety that we all need. To get your body into this pose, simply bring your big toes together and your knees wide, push your hips back to your heels and stretch your arms forward. Allow your chest and head to rest on your mat. This should be a comfortable resting position and should not require much work.
*If keeping your arms outstretched causes stress to your shoulders, you can instead create a pillow with your arms and rest your head on it.
Unlike the other poses described in this post, camel pose can be intense on both your body and spirit. In fact, this pose has brought me to tears on at least one occasion. Camel pose involves opening your heart space, which can leave you feeling vulnerable at first, but eventually–empowered. This is why I have chosen to include this on this list. Take your time with this pose and you too will love what it does for you.
To get into camel pose, stand up on your knees and place your hands on your low back. Bend backwards, pushing your hips forward and taking your gaze up toward the ceiling or sky. If you can, reach back for your ankles and continue to push your hips forward. Be sure to take the time to come out of this pose slowly so as not to become light headed. It is smart to return to child’s pose after any heart opener.
Is Special Equipment Needed for Yoga?
Yes and No. Most yoga can be completed without any specialized equipment, however I would recommend that you have at least a mat and a prop or two if you plan to do yoga regularly.
I enjoy the products I’ve purchased from Gaiam. They have a large selection of quality, affordable yoga equipment.
This yoga mat at is so pretty to look at, and is extra cushioned for comfort. This Kiku Yoga Mat matches my website, but you could choose a pattern that speaks to you.
The props you need will vary with your experience with yoga and your overall flexibility. The two basic props are a block and a strap. They come in purple too, yay! (I love purple, obviously)
So, try these poses in the comfort of your own home, check out a local class, or find a video series to follow online. Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube is a personal home practice fave of mine!
Let yoga help you manage your anxiety and depression!
Tell Me: Do you enjoy Yoga? What’s your favorite pose?
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