According to statistics, the most common mental illness in the United States is anxiety disorder, affecting 40 million adults. In some cases, the symptoms of this disease are mild, in other cases more severe, ranging from a feeling of nervousness to full-blown panic attacks. For many people, anxiety can be debilitating, making it hard to work, socialize, or even leave the house.
While there are many different treatments for anxiety, from medication to therapy, one promising holistic treatment is yoga. Yoga has proven to be an effective treatment for anxiety, providing relief from symptoms and helping people to manage their condition.
What Is Yoga?
The ancient practice of yoga originates from India. It is a form of physical and mental exercise that involves the body, mind, and breath. Yoga can be practiced in many ways, ranging from gentle stretching to more strenuous aerobic activities.
There are several types of yoga, but all forms of the practice share some commonalities. These include postures/asanas, breathing exercises/pranayama, and meditation.
Yoga is known to improve physical health, but it can have powerful effects on mental health, too. Research has found yoga can help to reduce stress, improve mood, and promote relaxation.
How Does Yoga Help Anxiety?
Yoga has a positive impact on both the mind and the body, helping to help alleviate anxiety. The physical movements of yoga help release tension from the muscles and ease the mind into a state of relaxation. The breathing exercises involved in yoga help control the breath, which has a calming effect on the nervous system. Meditation helps to focus the mind and promote feelings of peace and well-being.
Yoga reduces stress hormones, including cortisol, in the body. High cortisol levels can contribute to many health issues, including anxiety, depression, weight gain, and heart disease.
In addition, yoga increases levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate the nervous system. Low levels of GABA can lead to anxiety and other mental health disorders.
Is Yoga Hard To Do?
Luckily, yoga does not have to be strenuous to be effective. Gentle yoga may be more beneficial for people with anxiety as it is easier to focus on the breath and the mind when the body is not exerting itself. And it’s a practice you can do from the comfort of your own home if you so choose.
If you’re new to yoga, there are a few things to help you get started.
Check Out Your Streaming Library — Not ready to sign up for a yoga class? That’s okay. There are plenty of great yoga videos available online to help you get started.
Start Slowly — If you are new to yoga, it is essential to start slowly and build up your skills gradually. There’s no need to push too hard, especially when just getting started. Remember, the goal is to relax and de-stress, not add to your anxiety.
Choose a Class That Suits Your Needs — When choosing a yoga class, select one that is appropriate for your level of experience and fitness. For example, a beginner’s class would be best if you have never done yoga before. If attending an in-person class, let the instructor know about your health concerns. This way, they can offer modified poses if needed.
Try A Few Different Types — There are many different types of yoga, so it’s essential to find the practice that best suits your needs and interests. If you’re unsure where to start, try a few different classes and see what you like best.
Long-Term Benefits of Yoga
Yoga can provide relief from anxiety in the short term, but it can also have long-term effects. Regular practice can help to reduce stress levels, improve mood, and promote feelings of calm and well-being. In addition, yoga can help to increase muscle tone, strength, flexibility, improve sleep, and reduce pain.
As you might imagine, all of these benefits can positively impact anxiety. By improving your physical and mental health, yoga can help to reduce the frequency and severity of anxiety symptoms.
Whether you start at home or in a class, start slowly and focus on your breath. With regular practice, you may find that yoga provides relief from anxiety and helps you feel calmer and more relaxed.
If you’re searching for a holistic treatment option that can help to ease your anxiety symptoms, yoga might be suitable for you. So give it a try today!