Yoga for Anxiety: 11 Effective Yoga Poses for Anxiety and Depression Relief

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Yoga for Anxiety

Your comprehensive guide to yoga for anxiety, depression, and stress relief with effective poses (asanas) and how to practice them.

Stress, worry, and anxiety— if we start counting all the times we’ve felt these feelings throughout our lives, we might lose track! We have all experienced moments of anxiety, such as those related to exam results, our parents’ reactions to our report cards, first dates, job interviews, and many more. 

A bit of dread is normal; it is required to keep us disciplined, focused, and active, much like salt in food.

The issue arises when this fear becomes persistent and threatening enough to interfere with our daily lives. When this happens, it develops into an anxiety disorder characterized by extreme unease, worry, or fear of the future and requires medical attention. In these situations, yoga for anxiety can help people manage their stress, depression, and worries. 

It can be tough to reorient your mind when anxiety takes grip. Yoga has been found to affect persons suffering from anxiety and depression greatly.

In this write-up, let’s understand anxiety symptoms and discuss the most effective yoga poses for anxiety. 

Common Symptoms of Anxiety Disorder

Here is a quick list of anxiety symptoms that are too common:

  • Unusual levels of panic and uneasiness
  • Frequent irrational, obsessive thoughts about painful events in the past
  • Frequent wake-up from dreams
  • You usually wash your hands a lot
  • Sleeping disorder
  • Your feet and hands continue to perspire strangely
  • You experience palpitations a lot

Also Read- Yoga Nidra: How to do it and Its health benefits

Does Yoga Help With Anxiety?

Yes. It absolutely does.

When stress or the onset of anxiety symptoms appear, many people turn to yoga courses or programs. You might discover that paying attention to your breath and your capacity to be present in each yoga pose will help you calm your mind and improve your mood.

It all comes down to accepting yourself as you are. Performing pranayama, breathing exercises, and yoga poses for anxiety and depression for a few minutes daily can significantly improve your mental health.

Take note of the sensations that travel through your body as you practice each pose to get the most out of your session. Allow yourself to feel and go through whatever feelings come up.

Bring your attention back to the mat if you see your thoughts beginning to stray, and carry on with your practice.

Best Yoga Poses for Anxiety and Stress (Effective Asanas)

Below we have mentioned the top yoga asanas for anxiety, stress, and depression.

1. Virasana (Hero Pose)

Virasana

You can locate your center by sitting in this position. In the Virasana pose, you will find comfort in the silence by concentrating on your breathing. This is the best yoga mudra for anxiety relief.

Muscles used in Virasana:

  • erector spinae
  • quadriceps
  • knee muscles
  • ankle muscles

How to Practice Virasana (Hero Pose)?

  • Get into a kneeling position. Your feet should be spread slightly broader than your hips, and your knees should be together.
  • Keep your feet flat on the ground at all times.
  • Retain your seat such that the floor is directly beneath your feet. Use a block or a book if your bottom doesn’t reach the floor.
  • Your thighs with your hands there.
  • To widen your chest and extend your spine, sit up straight.
  • For up to 5 minutes, maintain this posture.                

2. Vrikshasana (Tree Pose)

Vrikshasana

This traditional standing position encourages introspection and calms your racing thoughts. Hence, it is one of the most effective yoga for anxiety and depression.

Muscles used in Vrikshasana:

  • abdominals
  • psoas
  • quadriceps
  • tibialis anterior

How to Practice Vrikshasana (Tree Pose)?

  • Stand up, and put your weight on your right foot while lifting your left foot slowly off the floor.
  • Turn your left foot slowly toward the inner of your left leg.
  • Please put it on your left thigh, calf, or ankle outside.
  • Keep your foot from contacting your knee.
  • Put your hands in a posture that is convenient for you. This could be hanging at your sides or in the pose of prayer in front of your heart.
  • For up to two minutes, maintain this position.
  • On the other side, repeat.

Also Read- Yoga Poses to Reduce Lower Back Pain

3. Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)

Trikonasana

This energizing pose can help relieve neck and back stiffness. This pose makes use of the muscles that help in reducing anxiety with yoga.

Muscles used in Trikonasana:

  • internal oblique
  • gluteus maximus and medius
  • hamstrings
  • Quadriceps

How to Practice Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)?

  • Put your feet wider than your hips, and stand up straight.
  • Face your right toes in at a small angle and your left toes forward.
  • As you raise your arms, let them spread from your shoulders. Your palms ought to be downward.
  • Reach forward with your left hand and extend your torso.
  • To bring your right hip back, hinge at the hip joint. Place your left hand on a block, the floor, or the leg.
  • Your right arm should be raised toward the sky.
  • Choose a comfortable direction to look in.
  • For up to a minute, hold this pose.
  • Now, Do the other side.

4. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

This pose of yoga for anxiety helps you relax your mind and body.

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Muscles used in Uttanasana:

  • spinal muscles
  • piriformis
  • hamstrings
  • gastrocnemius
  • gracilis

How to Practice Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)?

  • Stand with your feet about hip-width apart and place your hands on your hips.
  • Exhale as you fold forward with a slight knee bend by hinging at the hips.
  • Put your hands on the ground or a block to support them.
  • Embrace the chin-to-chest position.
  • Relax the muscles in your hips and lower back. Your neck and head should droop heavily to the ground.
  • Hold this position for up to one minute.

5. Matsyasana (Fish Pose)

Matsyasana (fish pose)

The fish pose of yoga assists in reducing chest and back tightness. People with anxiety disorder must practice this anxiety yoga on a regular basis for better results.

Muscles used in Matsyasana:

  • intercostals
  • hip flexors
  • trapezius
  • Abdominals

How to Practice Matsyasana (Fish Pose)?

  • While sitting, extend your legs in front of you.
  • With your palms downward, place your hands beneath your buttocks.
  • Expand your chest while you squeeze your elbows together.
  • To keep your arms raised in your chest, lean back into your forearms and elbows.
  • You can rest your head on a block or cushion or let it hang back toward the floor if that’s more comfortable.
  • For one or two minutes, hold this pose.

6. Uttana Shishosana (Extended Puppy Pose)

Uttana Shishosana

To reduce tension, this heart-opening yoga pose stretches and lengthens the spine.

Muscles used in Uttana Shishosana:

  • deltoids
  • trapezius
  • erector spinae
  • Triceps

How to do Uttana Shishosana (Extended Puppy Pose)?

  • Sit on a mat.
  • Put your hands in front of you a few inches, then tuck your buttocks close to your heels.
  • Keep your elbows raised while you press into your hands and flex your arms.
  • Place your forehead gently on the ground.
  • During this pose, allow your chest to relax and open.
  • Hold this position for two minutes at most.

Also Read- How to Stop Worrying and Start Living?

7. Balasana (Child’s Pose)

This calming asana helps reduce stress and exhaustion.

child pose

Muscles used in Balasana:

  • gluteus maximus
  • rotator muscles
  • hamstrings
  • spinal extensors

How to Practice Balasana (Child Pose)?

  • Sink back into your heels as you kneel down.
  • Keep your hands out in front of you as you bend forward.
  • Your forehead should rest on the floor while you let your chest sink heavily into your thighs.
  • Keep your arms in front of you, or place them next to your body.
  • For up to 5 minutes, maintain this posture.

8. Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-Knee Forward Bend)

Janu Sirsasana is among the top yoga poses for anxiety and depression. In this asana, your spine, hamstring, back muscles, and abs are stretched. As a result, it causes a positive impact on your nervous system, eventually reducing stress and anxiety. 

janu-sirsasana

Muscles used in Janu Sirsasana:

  • groin
  • hamstrings
  • spinal extensors
  • gastrocnemius

How to Practice Janu Sirsasana?

  • Your left leg should be stretched while you sit on the edge of a cushion or folded blanket.
  • Put your right foot’s sole against your left thigh.
  • You can support either knee with a cushion or block.
  • Extend your arms overhead and take a deep breath.
  • Inhale as you stretch your spine by hinging at the hips and folding forward.
  • Your hands can rest wherever on your body or on the ground.
  • For up to 5 minutes, maintain this posture.
  • Next, repeat on the other side.

9. Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)

Paschimottanasana

This posture is meant to help you quiet the mind and relieve anxiety. If your thoughts have wandered throughout your practice, use this pose to focus inward and return to your objective.

Muscles used in Paschimottanasana:

  • pelvic muscles
  • erector spinae
  • gluteus maximus
  • Gastrocnemius

How to Practice Paschimottanasana?

  • Your legs should be extended straight in front of you while you sit on the edge of a folded blanket or pillow.
  • Your knees might remain slightly bent.
  • As you raise your arms, inhale.
  • Keep your hands on your body or the floor, and slowly extend forward from your hips.
  • For five minutes, hold this pose.

10. Viparita Karani (Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose)

Viparita Karani

The benefits of the Viparita Karani yoga pose include a relaxed mind, relieving leg and foot cramps, reduced backache, etc. 

Muscles used in Viparita Karani Yoga Pose:

  • hamstrings
  • pelvic muscles
  • lower back
  • front torso
  • back of the neck

How to Practice Viparita Karani?

  • Sit with your right side up against a wall.
  • Swing your legs up along the wall, and then relax.
  • As close to the wall as your buttocks will comfortably allow it. This could be inches from the wall or right up against it.
  • In your neck, back, and chest, unwind and soften. Let your body sink into the ground.
  • For up to ten minutes, maintain this position.

Also Read- Effective Yoga Poses for PCOD

11. Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose)

Supta Baddha Konasana

This anxiety yoga pose can assist you in letting go of stress and depression, and fostering a sense of peace. By putting a block or cushion beneath your back, you can make it more of a heart opening.

Muscles used in Supta Baddha Konasana:

  • adductors
  • groin muscles
  • pelvic muscles
  • Psoas

How to Practice Supta Baddha Konasana?

  • As you lie on your back, bring the soles of your feet together.
  • For support, put cushions under your hips or knees.
  • Focusing on your breath, place one hand on your heart and the other on your lower abdomen.
  • Try to hold this pose for at least ten minutes.

Pranayama for Anxiety

Pranayama for Anxiety

Along with yoga asanas, you must also practice breathing exercises or pranayama to reduce anxiety and depression. When you meditate and focus on your breath, it helps your mind and body to find a sense of calm. 

Breathing works like a bridge between the mind and body, and the breathing exercises are great at improving the overall mental health. Moreover, these exercises make you aware about the interaction between your mind and body in such a way that it reduces your anxiety and stress level.

While doing the pranayama for anxiety, you should try to sense the emotions changing with every breath. Below, we have listed some breathing exercises that are effective in reducing your anxiety:

  • Simha Pranayama (Lion’s breath)
  • Nadi Sodhana Pranayama (Alternate Nostril Breathing)
  • Resonant Breathing
  • Equal Breathing
  • Breath Focus
  • Abdomen Breathing

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FAQs Related to Anxiety Yoga

1. What is anxiety?

It is a feeling of fear or worries over what is to come. Some people, for example, may feel anxious and worried before attending a job interview. 

2. What are the different types of anxiety?

Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Panic Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 
Social Phobia (or Social Anxiety Disorder)

3. What are the symptoms of anxiety?

The following list of symptoms of anxiety:
Feeling uneasy, agitated, or tense
Feelings of impending danger, terror, or doom
Having a faster heart rate
Rapid breathing (hyperventilation)
Sweating
Trembling
Feeling exhausted or weak
Having difficulty sleeping
Having gastrointestinal (GI) issues

4. What causes anxiety and stress?

Things that can cause anxiety are:
Work pressure at the office
School-related issues
Marriage can cause stress in a personal relationship.
Financial stress
Stress from global occurrences or political issues
Stress from unpredictable or uncertain world events, like a pandemic
Anxiety from a serious medical illness

5. What is an anxiety attack?

Episodes of extreme fear or panic are referred to as anxiety attacks. They frequently happen abruptly and without notice. Sometimes there’s an obvious trigger— getting stuck in an elevator, for example, or thinking about the big speech you have to give— but in other cases, the attacks come out of the blue.

6. What is stress?

Stress is a typical bodily reaction to circumstances that make one feel threatened or that upset one’s balance in some way. The body’s defenses ramp up quickly and automatically in a process known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction or the stress response when it detects a threat, real or imagined. The nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, that rouse the body for emergency action.

7. Can yoga cure anxiety?

Yes. Yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety. Your mood and a general sense of well-being can be improved by yoga. Yoga might also help you manage your symptoms of depression and anxiety due to difficult situations. Practice effective poses of yoga for stress and anxiety, as mentioned above. 

8. What is Social Phobia?

Social anxiety disorder, often known as social phobia, is characterized by overwhelming worry and extreme self-consciousness in regular social situations.

9. How yoga helps anxiety?

Anxiety and stress are everywhere. You should get on your mat and try yoga if they control you. Yoga is a mind-body exercise that incorporates physical positions, controlled breathing, meditation, and relaxation. Yoga may help you reduce stress, blood pressure, and heart rate.

10. Can meditation help in anxiety relief?

Meditation can relieve tension and promote inner peace. Try meditation and yoga for anxiety if stress makes you uneasy, tense, and worried. You can do this for a few minutes; even a few minutes of meditation might help you regain your inner peace. 
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