Chronic anxiety has been described as that pit of the stomach feeling you get when you miss a step when taking the stairs, except you feel it at all times. If you are currently struggling with either persistent, regular anxiety or just have a moment of anxiousness every now and then, yoga can help.
Yoga’s History and Purpose
Yoga is a practice that finds its root in ancient India. However, its healing properties are just as useful today, if not more so than when it was in its infancy. Today, research has scientifically proven yoga can and does help with anxiety. It makes sense that yoga would help in such a manner when you consider the mindfulness, meditative and relaxation aspects of the practice.
Science Proving It Works
Boston University found that yoga can increase the neurotransmitter in the brain, called GABA, which helps relax the mind, naturally. In essence, it has the same benefits of Xanax but without the side effects. The 12-week study noted a marked improvement in anxiety and mood in participants who did yoga three times weekly for an hour.
Why Yoga Works to Counteract Anxiety
According to a Psychology Today article, several important reasons make yoga effective at combating anxiety. They are as follows:
- Promotes Relaxation and Lowers Tension: We naturally tend to hold in anxiety within our bodies, especially in the jaw, neck and shoulders. This “tightness” signals to the body that something is wrong and almost perpetuates a feeling of anxiety. Yoga forces you to relax every part of your body and work through the tension that has set in, which can help the body “release” the pent up anxiety and create a sense of calmness.
- Forces The Mind to Stop Worrying: There are times in all our lives where the problems keep coming and we just can’t seem to get out of our own heads, walking through scenario after scenario of how to make something better. Yoga effectively forces the body to stop this. Because you have to fully focus on connecting your breath to movement and to feel your body inhaling and exhaling, practicing yoga ensures your mind will stop worrying, at least for a bit.
- Helps Regulate Breathing: The foundation of yoga is breathing and connecting our breath to our movements and to our bodies overall. You might not think about it but your breathing is connected to your nervous system, which in turn means that any anxiety you feel will cause you to take slow, shallow, rapid breaths. By contrast, yoga forces you to actively concentrate on your breath. Encouraging you to take full inhales and exhales. You will also pair your movements with your breathing. This means that you will stop breathing in a panicked manner and instead give your body the deep, relaxing breath it needs to calm down and relax.
It Helps But Isn’t Always The Only Answer
Yoga can help with your anxiety that is a fact. However, it might not be enough if you suffer from a chemical-based depression or anxiety disorder. Ask your doctor if they recommend beginning a yoga regimen to help your anxiety. It’s important to note, though, even if you take medication for anxiety, yoga can help you get the most out of that treatment. So, if you are struggling with anxiety, find some yoga outfit sets, soft yoga pants, comfy yoga pants or cute yoga pants and get on the mat!