How Yoga Can help relieve Anxiety
Sometimes life can feel like a constant state of stress and strain. Pressures from work, home, family, society, community. It’s no wonder that we might become anxious. For some people, this feeling of anxiety happens as a normal part of their everyday lives and it can become a battle to face, control and deal with it day after day. For others, it may just happen from time to time, when something thing(s) overwhelms us. Anxiety can come in many forms, panic attacks, phobias or even as simple as feeling social tension.
Some ways to identify if you or a loved one may be experiencing something on the anxiety scale may be:
- Surge of overwhelming panic
- Feeling of losing control or that thought ‘I’m going crazy!’
- Heart palpitations or chest pain
- Feeling like you’re going to pass out
- Trouble breathing or a choking sensation
- Hot flashes or chills
- Trembling or shaking
The above list of symptons are clearly tough to handle, and if you or a loved one are experiencing these, then perhaps there is a low-cost, easy and enjoyable way to help deal with this, Yoga.
For many years we’ve already known the many benefits of yoga when it comes to physical strength, flexibility, postures, mindfulness, but increasingly the medical community are starting to acknowledge the direct link between yoga and reducing stress and anxiety. Organisations that deal with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, stress are waiting with baited breath as more and more studies prove what many people know from personal experience, that Yoga helps Anxiety. In fact organisations are even being formed to focus purely on this, such as The Yoga Foundation in Sydney “an evidence based movement to reduce anxiety and depression to improve the quality of life for disadvantaged people” (Source theYogafoundation.org.au)
So how exactly does it work? Well the research says that yoga can relieve anxiety by inducing the ‘relaxation response’. The scientific explanation seems to be that yoga increases the levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). Low GABA levels are associated with people who suffer from anxiety and depression. GABA is a neurotransmitter (brain transmitter) whose primary role is to reduce neuronal excitability. So it seems that more GABA equals less anxiety.
The Asanas (the positions) can help release the tension, the Pranayama (the breathing practices) help free the mind of clutter and other thoughts, essentially removing the focus of the mind, off the thoughts that are causing the anxiety. A subconscious meditation comes as a result of the movement of the positions with the breath and hence a sense of calmness and peace can occur. If only for an hour…. yoga forces you to concentrate on the here and now, or you’ll fall over, and if you do, you’ll laugh and feel a release.
By practicing yoga regularly, you give yourself the chance to move further inside yourself because as the positions and flow become familiar, you are able to focus more on the breathing. This discipline of focusing on the breath is quite tough, and mentally it’s good training to the brain in control. Parking thoughts, letting them go, returning to focus on the breath, is a beneficial calming techniques for when those feelings of anxiety rear their head at any stage of the day.
So if any of these feelings we’ve listed are familiar – for either yourself or for a loved one consider trying yoga and watch the benefits roll in. The variety of Yoga classes are endless, from gentle nurturing classes through to sweaty dynamic classes, or perhaps try a nice combination of both. At Yoga Everyday we offer a range of classes – Yoga Flow, Beginners Yoga, Foundations Yoga, Hour of Power and Yin/Yoga Stretch, so you’ll be sure to find a style to suit your personality and you preference.
We believe you’ll start to notice the changes very quickly. If you are brand new to yoga, after your third time in a class your body will probably start to feel different, less stiff, more able to move. Some people say after 5 classes you’ll start to notice your mind starting to shift, and from there the benefits are endless. We’ve had students say that after just one class their sleep improved significantly. Once you are coming regularly, you’ll find improvements to your physique, your breathing, you’ll start feeling a bit more calm and your mind might start to become a bit more quiet and overall you’ll just feel a bit more ‘ahhh’ (we are unsure of the technical word so let’s just go with ‘aahhhhh’)
Sounds good right? We think so too. Come along to a class at Yoga Everyday and check out what the fuss is all about.