With the increasing stressors of modern-day life, it is not uncommon for us to experience a rise in anxiety and depression-like symptoms. We may notice more frequent feelings of worry, irritability and a general low mood, along with physical symptoms which can arise as the result of anxiety. This can include an increase in sweating, fast heartbeat and poor sleep. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the popularity of yoga continues to grow as we practice it worldwide, with its ability to aid in improving mental wellbeing.
Can yoga really cure my anxiety?
An abundance of clinical evidence exists to suggest that yoga does in fact reduce anxiety and depression symptoms. Many research studies have concluded that participation in a weekly yoga class for around a three-month period results in reduced stress, anxiety and depression, as well as an improved state of wellbeing. This is in comparison to those who did not participate in a weekly yoga class, suggesting that yoga really is beneficial in reducing anxiety and depression symptoms.
How can yoga help your mental health?
We have all been told when we are feeling down “go on a walk or do some exercise and you will feel better” and the frustrating thing is, that we know this is probably true, but in reality, intense exercise is often the last thing that you want to do. In these situations, yoga is a great place to start, as yoga practice is gentle exercise, it is a natural way to increase serotonin production. As a result, this can help ground your breathing and relieve depressive symptoms.
How to do deep breathing exercises for anxiety (and what to avoid)
It’s quite remarkable that something as simple as breathing has the power to change our body’s physical and mental state. Throughout the day, many of us may not even notice our breathing pattern, however, maybe now is the time to give it some thought. Have you ever felt anxious and noticed that your breathing pattern has become short and shallow from the chest? Well, this form of shallow breathing actually drives a stress response which can contribute to anxiety as a result of increased heart rate causing your blood to not be oxygenated properly. Instead, deep breathing regulates the heartbeat and blood flow around the body to avoid the dreaded ‘fight or flight’ response.
Pranayama, the umbrella term for the plethora of yoga breathing techniques, are effective techniques used in yoga that can leave you feeling energized and stress free. One of the simplest pranayama techniques you can try is alternate nostril breathing. Using your thumb close your right nostril and breathe in slowly through your left nostril. Before exhaling, use your index finger to close the left nostril and release your thumb from the right nostril to breath out slowly. Repeating the process a few times will help you achieve mental clarity and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. Why not start taking a short time out of your day to focus on your breathing and feel the benefits of the many yoga breathing techniques?
Learn yoga as your new escape from depression and anxiety
Maybe you have never tried your hand at yoga because you are worried you won’t be as flexible as everyone else or have the latest brand of yoga pants. Think again! No matter your age or ability you can still get involved because we believe ‘yoga for everybody and every body’.
Taking some time out of your day to focus on yourself and learn a new skill can actually help relieve stress and as a result reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. Too often these days people are praised for working tirelessly and ultimately reach burn out, when the reality is, we should in fact be taking a step back to learn something new as this has been recognized to improve mental wellbeing. Why not try yoga and experience the benefits for yourself?