Yoga for Anxiety: Practice These 8 Poses to Reduce Your Anxiety in Minutes

Allie Flavio
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Do you suffer from anxiety? Stress? Or a combination of the two?
 
Don’t worry, I am right beside you nodding my head, waving my hands, and answering that question with a big HELL YES.
 
And let’s be honest, the pressure to achieve more, climb higher, and work harder leaves many of us doing the anxiety dance from the moment we wake up until we go to bed.
 
It’s exhausting, if you ask me.
 
But like most of life’s challenges, there’s a silver lining to this whole issue of anxiety that so many of us are dealing with, which is to cultivate change and find a solution that works for you.
 

Practice Yoga to Reduce Anxiety

My solution is a short, effective yoga sequence that calms the mind, releases stored tension, relaxes the body, and invites me into the present moment.
 
And it works.
 
Take it from the girl who’s recently become her own boss and feels like the world could cave in on any given day. Yes, that girl is me, and yes I am learning how to manage my time better, stay focused, and work towards my dreams without anxiety showing up every damn day.
 
And yes, there are still many moments where my chest feels tight, my breath becomes ragged, and my mind can’t hold a thought for even a second, but that’s when I do what works.
 
Enter: the yoga practice.
 
So if you’re with me, wanting to reduce anxiety and welcome in a calm, peaceful state, then this yoga sequence is perfect for you.
 
A few things to note before we dive into our yoga sequence:

  • Choose whether to hold each posture for a short time (5 breaths) or an extended period of time (several minutes) depending on what you need and how much time you have
  • This sequence includes affirmations to repeat as you breathe – use these as a way to move past your anxiety to a place of peace, calm, and a sense of wellbeing while you’re in each pose

 

Practice This Yoga Sequence to Reduce Anxiety

Now, let’s begin. All you need is a yoga mat and about 10 minutes (if you have more time, awesome – just hold the poses longer).

1. Cat + Cow Pose

1-cow-pose
 
2-cat-pose
 
How to Practice:

  • Begin in a neutral tabletop position
  • On an inhale breath, move into your Cow position
  • Soften your belly to the ground, reach your sitting bones high, traction your shoulders back, expand across your chest, and gently gaze towards the sky
  • On an exhale breath, move into your Cat position
  • Round your back towards the sky, release your tailbone towards the ground, and relax your head and neck
  • Continue this movement for a short or extended amount of time

 
Affirmation: I embrace fluidity and release control
 
How Cat + Cow Reduces Anxiety:

  • It synchronizes the breath leading to increased coordination and intentional focus
  • Awakens your life force energy from within
  • Can increase emotional balance and stability of the mind
  • Relieves physical tension in the spine that manifests from mental tension

 
 

2. Thread the Needle Pose

3-thred-needle
 
How to Practice:

  • Begin in a neutral tabletop position
  • On an inhale breath, reach your right hand towards the sky
  • Use your exhale breath to weave the right hand beneath your left armpit with your palm facing up
  • Relax your right ear or forehead to the ground
  • Breathe deeply into your body, from the right shoulder towards the hip points, feeling yourself expand and create freedom
  • Gently unwind from the posture when ready and transition to the other side

 
Affirmation: I am the creator of my day
 
How Thread the Needle Reduces Anxiety:

  • Releases tension held in the upper back and shoulders (hello everyday living)
  • Stretches the chest, arm, upper back, and neck
  • Creates a mild twist for the spine, allowing more tension to release

 
 

3. Cobra + Upward Facing Dog

5-up-dog
 
4-sphynx-pose
 
How to Practice:

  • Start lying down on your stomach
  • Plant your palms beneath your shoulders
  • On an inhale breath, press down to lift your torso up
  • Energize your legs and activate your core
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together and spread across the chest
  • Practice either pose by itself, or start with Cobra and progress into Up Dog as you’re ready
  • Channel your breath from the back of your heart out through the front

 
Affirmation: I love myself
 
How Cobra + Upward Facing Dog Reduce Anxiety:

  • Elevates your mood
  • Invigorates and opens the heart space, opening the Heart Chakra
  • Counteracts your daily movements (like driving, typing, a.k.a. living)

4. Headstand

6-yoga for anxiety-headstand
 
How to Practice:

  • Begin in a tabletop position and lower down onto your forearms
  • Interlace your fingers creating basket for the back of your head and bring the crown of your head to the mat
  • Pike your hips towards the sky, walk the feet towards your face, as you bring more weight into your forearms and shoulders
  • Lift one leg up, activate your core, and transition into an L-shape position
  • Choose to stay here or play with different leg variations

 
Affirmation: I accept and trust uncertainty
 
How Headstand Reduces Anxiety:

  • Increases focus
  • Flushes out the adrenal glands
  • Increases blood flow
  • Stimulates the lymphatic system

 

 

5. Double Pigeon Pose

7-double-pigeon-pose
 
How to Practice:

  • From Down Dog, step your right foot between your hands and then walk it towards the left side of your mat, relaxing your outer shin down to the mat
  • Extend your back left leg behind you, resting the top of your left foot on the mat
  • You can stay upright on your palms or lower down to your forearms
  • When ready, unwind your body and complete on the other side

 
Affirmation: I release what no longer serves me
 
How Double Pigeon Reduces Anxiety:

  • Our hips can store past trauma and emotions making them an easy target when working with stress and anxiety
  • Your breath creates a mind + body connection, especially when cultivated during intense hip opening postures
  • It stretches the outer hips to release tension for people who sit all day

 
 

6. Nadi Shodhana Pranayama (Alternate Nostril Breathing)

8-alternate-nostril-breathing
 
9-alternate-nostril-breathing
 
How to Practice:

  • Begin a comfortable seated position
  • Bring your right hand in front of your face and fold the pointer and middle finger towards your hand
  • Place your thumb on the right nostril and gently close it
  • Take an inhale breath through your left nostril, release your thumb, place your ring finger on the left nostril, and exhale through the right nostril
  • Inhale through your right nostril, close it off with your thumb, and exhale through your left nostril
  • Continue for 5-10 minutes and ending on the left nostril with an exhale breath

 
Affirmation: I embody balance
 
How Nadi Shodhana Reduces Anxiety:

  • Improves mental clarity and focus
  • Restores balance between the right and left hemispheres, the yin and yang, the masculine and the feminine
  • Revitalizes the nervous system
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Removes toxins in the body

 
 

7. Meditation

10-yoga for anxiety-meditation
 
How to Practice:

  • Find a comfortable seated position
  • Root down through your sitting bones and rise up through your spinal column
  • Close your eyes as you soften the shoulders
  • Bring your attention to the breath to keep the mind present

 
Affirmation: My awareness overcomes all obstacles
 
How Meditation Reduces Anxiety:

  • Improves concentration
  • Increases self-awareness
  • Promotes happiness and acceptance
  • Promotes better sleep, while decreasing insomnia

 
 

To End, Seal Your Practice

11-after-meditation
 
How to Practice:

  • After you meditate, allow yourself to fold forward over your legs
  • Bring your forehead to a block or ground and allow your head and neck to hang freely
  • Pause here to repeat the affirmation out loud or silently in your head
  • Once you feel at peace, harness an inhale breath to lift your torso and complete your practice

 
Affirmation: Peace begins with me
 

Practice Yoga For Anxiety and Experience Calm Empowerment

And there you have it. Say hello to a calm state of mind, mental clarity, intentional focus, and a sense of peace.
 
As you continue your day, remember that these postures and affirmations are always available to support you. So when life starts spinning and our familiar friends (anxiety + stress) creep in, take a moment to pause, get on your yoga mat, and connect with your breath.
 

This article has been read 4K+ times. Feelin’ the love!

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Whatever level of anxiety you are dealing with in your life, may these strategies help you find your most radiant state - relaxed, clear and at ease. Remember that like yoga, this is a daily practice.
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Allie Flavio

Allie is the soul behind TheJourneyJunkie.com and a yoga girl at heart. When Allie’s not blogging about yoga/travel advice or doing/teaching yoga, you can find her relaxing by the beach in sunny St. Petersburg, FL. A born and raised Florida girl, Allie is an outdoor junkie who loves the ocean, fresh air, and a delicious fish sandwich! To learn more about her yoga and travel adventures, check out her blog The Journey Junkie.

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