Tip Tuesday: 3 Poses for When You’re Feeling Anxious

Tip Tuesday is a weekly feature where I offer a few yoga tips that have worked for me in the hopes that they can help you too.

What yoga poses do you do when you’re feeling anxious? Your heart is racing, adrenaline pumping, mind chattering away. When anxiety strikes, the following poses help me get grounded, tap into my strength, and quiet the mind.

1. Dolphin pose
Dolphin *seems* like it would just be a pose for arm strength, right? Actually it’s a lot about the legs. If done right, this pose will really help you feel the power in the legs to support the opening in the shoulders.

To get there:

1) Bring hands to upper arms to measure your elbow distance. Line up second finger with the elbow and work with forearms down or clasp hands out in front of you

2) Wrap shoulders towards the armpits so you feel the chest muscle (right where arm and armpit meet) engage

3) Exhale, curl toes, lift the hips up reaching up and out of shoulders.

While you’re there:

1) Keep reaching up and out of the shoulders
2) Breathe, especially into lower back, spreading breath into the ribs
3) Let your inner ankles resist one another, firing up the legs

2. Bridge pose
Bridge pose demands that you not only get into your legs, but also expand your breath out into the chest. The deepening and slowing of the breath necessary for bridge pose helps counteract the short, shallow breathing that accompanies anxiety.

To get there:

1) Lie on the back with knees bent, feet slightly wider than hip-width distance. Bring fingers down towards heels, rotate palms open.

2) Inhale and expand the breath into chest, lifting ribs away from waist

3) Exhale, press into the feet, tuck tailbone, and press hips up

While you’re there:

1) Slow down the inhale, feeling for expanding breath into upper chest, fanning the ribs towards the face
2) Tuck tailbone up
3) Press into feet, lifting and spreading the toes

Image credit: dailymail.co.uk

3. Feet Up the Wall (Viparita Karani) For those times where you’re having trouble falling asleep or you’re waking up before your alarm with anxiety, feet up the wall pose is an amazingly effective solution. I keep a blanket near a little wall space in my bedroom for just those times. A few minutes of breathing here is usually enough to help me switch physiological gears and get back into bed and sleep.

To get there:

1) Sit close to the wall with knees bent, left hip facing close to the wall. Flip the legs up the wall so they are vertical or close to it

2) Adjust hips as you need to, reach arms along floor out by shoulders with palms open

3) Optionally, you can place a folded blanket next to the wall and have this under the hips and torso with head on floor. I actually like to place the blanket over me, if I’m just getting out of a warm bed.

While you’re there:

1) Keep feet active
2) Feel neck and shoulders relax down
3) Breathe! If your mind is particularly agitated, commit to staying for at least ten breaths (and you may find you want to stay longer).

Share any yoga poses you find helpful in combating anxiety in the comments.

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One thought on “Tip Tuesday: 3 Poses for When You’re Feeling Anxious

  1. Pingback: Bridge pose | Yoga Tips and Resources. Get ready for Yoga Lessons

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