Why Use Yoga As An Adjunct Treatment For Anxiety
Yoga leads to a cessation of the fluctuations of the mind
The impact of anxiety can be severe, and there are times that people feel dissatisfied with the solutions they are currently presented. While medication is often a vital part of any treatment plan, patients can sometimes be uncomfortable with side-effects or the thought of a difficult withdrawal. According to Baldwin and Polkinghorn , 50% of people prescribed pharmacological intervention reported an improvement in symptoms, and a US-based study concluded that up to 30% of patients may be treatment resistant finding front-line interventions ineffective.
This goes some way to explain why 56% of those living with anxiety disorders seek complementary and alternative medicine hinting at a widespread desire for further support outside of traditional treatment plans. With a growing body of scientific literature to guide clinical practice in applying yoga as a treatment of anxiety, yoga therapy can step into this gap and provide additional support helping people regulate their stress response, increase their resiliency and manage their anxiety.
Some postures are challenging, but you are learning to relax under physical duress and this can help you handle long-term anxiety.
Yoga Lowers Tension And Promotes Relaxation
Ever felt your body becoming tenser while stressed or anxious? Our bodies often constrict during periods of anxiety and stress. We start to hold tension in our back, shoulders, jaw, neck, or elsewhere. Yoga can help us to relax and lower our physical tension, in turn release the power that anxiety has on us.
Yoga for relaxation YouTube/Yoga With Adriene
Yoga Poses & Breathing For Panic Attacks
Let me tell you about when I started using yoga poses for panic attacks and yoga breathing for panic attacks.
I would be going about my day-to-day life. Everything would be fine. Then out of nowhere a terrible thought would enter my mind. I would think something horrible, usually related to my health. If I felt a bump, it was cancer. If I felt a slight headache, it was a psychological disorder. Id panic. And it would feel absolutely horrible. And all because of negative thoughts.
Negative thoughts are one of the common symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks.
According to Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson, and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D at HelpGuide, the symptoms of panic attacks are:
For me, it started with negative thoughts. As soon as I experienced a negative thought, Id get all sorts of physiological reactions. You know, the usual physical symptoms of panic attacks like sweating, feeling hot, and a racing heart. Id panic that something was terribly wrong, and Id lose control.
Thank goodness I was able to use yoga for panic attack relief.
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Yoga Breaks Worry Cycles
Stepping onto the yoga mat gives us a chance to be mindful. As postures require focus, yoga helps with anxiety by forcing us to concentrate on our breath, bodies and movement, therefore letting go of other worries and negative thoughts. If we practise yoga regularly enough, this can help us break our worry cycles and reduce anxious thoughts.
Yoga to Calm Your Nerves YouTube/Yoga With Adriene
Do Yoga Asanas And Relieve Your Stress Of Mind
Note:At the end of the yoga posture session, lie down inYoga Nidra to give your mind and body a few minutes of through relaxation. The technique is helpful in flushing out body toxins, a primary cause of stress, from the system.
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Isnt Yoga For Hippies And New
If you’re anything like I used to be, you’ll immediately associate yoga with images of new-age soccer moms stretching at the park, or some old guy sitting in robes contorting his body while perched on a mountaintop. I’ll admit, I used to view yoga with the same skeptic discontent that I view homeopathic remedies or “healing crystals” with. This was an error on my part. Practicing yoga for anxiety and psychological benefits is actually extremely effective, with well-founded scientific evidence to back it up.
The reason why many people dismiss the idea of trying yoga for panic attacks and anxiety management is likely because of the spiritual connotations that come along with it. The ancient Indian philosophies built around the practice of yoga are some 5,000-10,000 years old, and can be pretty heavy on the spiritualism. Some people may love this, but natural skeptics like myself tend to immediately recoil.
To those not looking for a new life philosophy or spiritual practice, yoga can appear more like a stretching cult than a legitimate form of exercise.
However, the reality is, modern Western adaptations of yoga focus much more on the physical and mental benefits of the exercise; as opposed to Eastern cultures more traditional focus on the spiritualism and philosophy behind yoga. Much like meditation, yoga can be an entirely secular practice. You can do it for the physical and mental benefits, no philosophical strings attached.
Yoga Trains Us To Accept Discomfort
We naturally run away from discomfort, but we may experience it while holding various yoga poses. Yoga asks us to experience this uncomfortable feeling for a while and not try to escape it. Knowing that we can experience discomfort and deal with it can help us when coping with anxiety, for example, encouraging us to ride through a panic attack instead of trying to run away from it.
20-min yoga for anxiety workout: YouTube/Yoga With Adriene
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Yoga Incorporates Aspects Of Meditation
Weve already touched on this earlier, but just to reiterate…
Meditation is one of the eight limbs of yoga, and most yoga instructors will probably help guide you through a meditation as you practice your postures.
Meditation is an absolutely incredible coping mechanism to help stop panic attacks, and an awesome exercise for helping to decrease symptoms of anxiety long-term. Mindfulness meditations in particular are great for helping us to reel our negative thoughts back in and redirect our focus when things get out of hand during a severe anxiety attack.
If you havent already, be sure to check out our full article on how meditation helps anxiety.
What This Study Adds
This new review concentrates exclusively on yoga and is broader in its remit in that it addresses anxiety and anxiety disorders
Owing to the diversity of conditions treated and the poor quality of most of the studies, it is still not possible to say that yoga is effective in treating anxiety or anxiety disorders in general, but there are encouraging results, particularly with obsessive compulsive disorder
Yoga is an attractive therapeutic option because of its popularity recently demonstrated in the United States, and, like exercise, may be of particular use where clients reject ostensibly psychological diagnoses and treatments. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence recommend that patients with panic disorder and generalised anxiety disorder are informed about exercise as part of good general health. If proved efficacious, yoga would be an attractive option because it is non-pharmacological, has minimal adverse effects if practised as recommended, and enjoys international acceptance.
In summary, the eight studies reviewed here report positive findings for the use of yoga in OCD, examination anxiety, snake phobia, anxiety neurosis, and psychoneurosis, although the latter two diagnostic terms are no longer used. There were, however, many methodological inadequacies, and only the OCD study could be described as being methodologically rigorous.
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Limitations Of Yoga For Reducing Anxiety Symptoms
Yoga seems to be a legitimate and effective approach to easing symptoms of anxiety. This claim is supported by research; however, there are some important limitations to keep in mind. Not all studies are equal in quality. Some have had flaws such as poor design or small numbers.6
Further, while yoga can reduce symptoms of anxiety and stress, it is not considered to be a stand-alone treatment, and it may not be effective for helping severe anxiety such as anxiety disorders.19 People experiencing extreme stress and anxiety may want to consider seeking help from a mental health professional or their primary doctor.
When The Anxiety Attacks Didn’t Stop I Realized I Had To Make A Serious Change
After my initial anxiety attack, I started having smaller anxiety attacks every night. And anxiety attacks start to become self-perpetuating because you become scared that you’re going to have them, and then they just keep happening. My days seemed to go OK, but the second I would walk in the door of my apartment I would have an anxiety attack.
So I went to my family doctor, and she suggested I try an anti-anxiety/antidepressant type of medication and yoga. So I started yoga and Pilates at the same time. I went to a Bikram class first, and I got a Pilates private lesson. I loved them both. I was on medication at the same time, and I started to really, really love both yoga and Pilates because of the breath and the control of the breath.
I didn’t come into yoga for the fad of it. I was initially there for the breath because I didn’t have it. And I needed it.
Once I learned how to use my breath, every time I felt like I was getting an attack I would do this super basic breathing. And I mean, ujjayi breath works for anything. Then I started doing yoga every day and my anxiety was totally under control.
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How Yoga For Anxiety Helped One Woman Overcome Her Panic Attacks
At the onset, one hot summer night, at 2:00 a.m., I thought I had the flu. A strong wave of nausea sat me straight up in bed and brought my awareness to a heavily pounding heart. Sweat beaded upon my upper lip. Fear pounded my bones. I went to the bathroom and spent the rest of the morning sleeping on the cold tile floor.
Each night, for months, this powerful set of symptoms woke me, leaving me boggle-eyed and foggy throughout each day. Its discombobulating effect sent me to the doctor where I was diagnosed, at the age of 28, with a panic disorder.
Mental health had been an issue since I was in college. Depression and anxiety were no strangers to my life, but this panic disorder diagnosis had me spinning. Daily, I experienced intense episodes of fear coupled with severe nausea. I suffered from ongoing migraines, stress-induced gastritis, and developed a hernia. Medications werent helping andin one doctors opinionmaking me worse. For months, I was bed-ridden, leaving my children and husband in the shadow of my illness. After two psychiatrists, one psychologist, one counselor, and years of non-change, I needed to set out upon a new path. It started with pranayama.
Using these techniques, I practiced and journaled for two years. During this time, I began attending Buddhist gatherings and yoga classes, which echoed many of the topics related to DBT. Soon my dedicated home yoga practice was born.
Meditation Vs Yoga For Anxiety Whats The Difference
For people who are totally new to yoga and meditation, the two can seem difficult to unpack and differentiate from one another.
To keep this is simple as possible, I want you to think of it like this:
- Meditation is a form of mental exercise that involves focusing the mind or redirecting our thoughts in such a way that helps us to practice control over our thoughts and emotions. .
- Yoga is a system of exercises for physical and mental health. It combines components such as breath control, meditation, and bodily postures to help with health and relaxation.
In other words: Meditation is a way to exercise the mind. Yoga is a way to exercise the body and the mind together, typically incorporating meditation into the practice.
So, with a decent yoga instructor, you can basically kill two birds with one stone; you can get some meditation in while exercising. Its a win-win!
To better illustrate this visually, we have the 8 Limbs of Yoga.
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Common Issues Caused By Anxiety And Panic Attacks
As mentioned before, occasional bouts of anxiety are perfectly normal and quite frankly, a part of life. However, if anxiety or panic attacks are prolonged and persistent, they can lead to other health issues if not dealt with. Unfortunately, we seem to be getting more used to living under a constant state of stress. However, this is definitely not good for our bodies. When we live in a constant state of stress and anxiety, it can affect numerous bodily systems and cause issues that may affect our health. Just a few of these issues include:
Why Do Yoga For Anxiety & Panic Attacks
The never-ending personal and professional responsibilities often wreak havoc on your mental health. In the long run, these become physical symptoms and take the form of pain, discomfort, stress, tension, and stiffness in your body. There are numerous yoga asanas that give your body good stretching along with loosening the tightened muscles and joints.
You can enroll in a certified yoga school to learn the best yoga for anxiety and panic attacks poses which help you get rid of both these issues. Yoga not only works on your body, but it also helps your mind get rid of negative thoughts.
Common symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks are constant negative thoughts and feelings that affect your mood for the entire day. With the help of yoga techniques like meditation and visualization, you bring the minds focus towards deep breathing and activate the bodys relaxation response system. Moreover, with the daily practice of yoga for anxiety at a certified yoga school, you also have a chance to build a social life and stay away from the loneliness which also cures anxiety and panic.
Top 5 Yoga For Anxiety And Panic Attacks Asanas
With that said, yoga experts have come up with a list of yoga asanas that can help you get rid of anxiety and panic attacks.
1. Bridge Pose
However, if you suffer from a neck injury, yoga experts recommend you avoid this yoga asana.
2. Staff Pose
3. Bow Pose
4. Seated Forward Bend Pose
5. Bound Angle Pose
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Create A Relaxing Space
In my personal experience, this tip is more valuable than many people realise. Make sure you create a relaxing yoga space to practise in.
Many people who suffer from anxiety and panic attacks do not feel confident enough to practice in a group at the yoga studio. Thats fine. On one condition: Practice in a relaxing space.
When youre using yoga for panic attack relief, youre specifically doing it to relax your mind. Youre not really doing it for the physical exercise. Yes, thats a bonus. But its really about relaxing and taking control of anxiety.
Do yoga in a relaxing space where you will not be disturbed, and, crucially, somewhere you will not be exposed to any of the triggers of your panic attacks.
Can Yoga Ease Anxiety Symptoms
Yoga is a mindfulness practice that may be perfectly suited to reduce anxiety symptoms. While this ancient practice wasnt specifically developed as a treatment for anxiety, its concepts and benefits make it especially effective in calming both the mind and body when youre feeling anxious. Heres an in-depth look at how and why yoga can ease anxiety symptoms.
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Yoga Tips For Beginners
When youre new to yoga, the practice can seem difficult physically and mentally. The postures can feel uncomfortable, and its easy to be self-critical. Sometimes, too, anxiety makes us feel restless and agitated, so slowing down for a yoga practice can be challenging. Knowing that yoga takes patience, persistence, and time, can help you stick with it.
If youre just getting started with yoga practice, here are some other tips that may help:1,17,18
Use Essential Oil Blends To Reduce Anxiety
In this day and age, many people are finding themselves struggling with anxiety and panic disorders. Whether it be from exposure to prolonged stress or even some other factor, anxiety can be a real struggle for many individuals. Ideally, one of the best solutions for anxiety is to reduce the amount of stress. However, thats not always possible.
Luckily, there are many effective conventional and holistic treatment options for anxiety, including the use of essential oils. When used in combination with other relaxing oils, anxiolytic essential oils can be an effective and incredibly pleasant way to reduce feelings of anxiety and panic. Start with the blends mentioned above for anxiety and consider a ZYTO galvanic skin response or voice analysis scan as well to discover your top products and services for overall wellness.
About Nicole Stine
Nicole Stine is a certified herbalist who has numerous aromatherapy and natural health certifications. She is passionate about using herbs and essential oils safely and thoroughly enjoys researching and writing about natural health, as well as creating her own formulations.
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How Yoga Can Help With Anxiety
A 2006 study from UCLAs Department of Psychiatry showed that almost 30 per cent of anxiety disorder patients may be treatment resistant, finding front-line interventions such as medication ineffective.
This in part may help to explain why so many people with anxiety seek alternative treatments. Indeed, a 2001 study from Harvard Medical School showed that just over half 56 per cent of the 2,000 people questioned living with anxiety disorders seek alternative and complementary medicine.
Yoga is just one of those alternative treatments. Incorporating postures, meditation, visualization, and breath focus, the overall practice of yoga can elicit the relaxation response, allowing both the mind and body and mind to calm down.
And, while yoga is an ancient practice, many of the systems of yoga believed to be created by the sage Patanjali feature elements used in modern anxiety treatments: relaxation techniques focused on breath regulation, cognitive reframing, behavioural recommendations, mindfulness of sensory input, as well as methods for greater cognitive flexibility, stress reduction and increased concentration.
Yoga elicits the relaxation response, allowing both the mind and body and mind to calm down.
Appraisal Of The Methodology
Measure of study quality
The reporting of study methodology was poor in most of the studies, and there were also some methodological inadequacies . The potential for bias is therefore high. Although six out of eight studies were randomised, only one showed an adequate method of randomisation and allocation concealment. One study used an inadequate serial numbering method with a subsequent block move of patients to the control group because of an inability to perform yoga. In all the other randomised controlled trials, no detail of the method of randomisation or concealment of allocation is given. Given the nature of yoga, blinding of participants would generally not be considered feasible. Two studies were described as double blind, although participants were not blinded in one of the studies. It is still possible to blind the outcome assessor, and this was carried out in both of these studies, but was either not done, was not possible because of self assessment, or is not mentioned in the others. There was a large loss to follow up in the studies by Sahasi et al and Sharma et al , and this was a concern in the paper of Shannahoff-Khalsa et al, which may bias the results. None of these three studies gave any reasons for the dropouts, and no detail at all was given in the others.
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If The Panic Attack Has Already Hit
Panic attacks are nothing to be ashamed of. They can happen to literally anyone. In these sweat-inducing, tremor-producing moments, your body preps for fight or flight even if theres no real danger. Panic attacks can be scary, especially if youve never had one before.
You can use yoga to combat anxiety and panic attacks. But you shouldnt force it. Before you jump into a routine, take some time to calm yourself.
Try to take deep, slow breaths that fill your belly . Draw air in through your nose and exhale through your mouth. You can also try alternate nostril breathing. Focus on your breath until you feel relief.
Entering a simple yoga pose can also help. Pick one that promotes circulation but also helps you relax. Some good choices are Childs Pose and Bridge Pose. This can open your lungs, slow rapid breathing, and decrease your heart rate.
This Is My No 1 Tip For Anyone Suffering From Anxiety Attacks
You’re not alone. Know that there are a lot of people dealing with anxiety, and you’re not crazy. I think even just stopping to breathe can help. Anything you can do that makes you feel wholegardening, going for a walk, being with your dog. Maybe yoga isn’t for you, but regardless, it will have benefits. Find something that will bring you back to who you are and centers you.
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Summary Of The Search Strategy
A comprehensive search for clinical research was carried out. Searches were conducted on major biomedical and specialist databases and websites. Citations were sought from relevant reviews and various appropriate specialised books. Relevant websites were also included in the search, including those of specialist yoga and mental health organisations.
What Exercise Is Good For Panic Attacks
Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. About five minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects.
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How I Used Yoga Poses And Yoga Breathing For Panic Attacks
I needed to take back my self-control. And so, I forced myself onto my yoga mat.
At first, I could only do 10 minutes. Id get tired or Id think terrible thoughts like Im not good enough, or Id worry about what work I had to do.
But I kept going back onto my mat. because I knew that the more I practised yoga, the more self-control I would have.
Apply Yoga Philosophy In Your Life; Stay Happy And Enjoy Every Moment
Knowing and applying the ancient yoga knowledge in daily life, which talks about some simple yet profound principles of yoga, can be the secret to happy and healthy living. For instance, the Santosha principle teaches the value of contentment. The Aprigraha principle can help us overcome greediness or the desire to keep possessing more, which can be a reason for stress and anxiety. Also, the Shaucha principle talks about cleanliness of the mind and body. This rule can particularly help if you tend to get too anxious about catching infectious diseases.
The yamas and niyamas of yoga will also help us eat nutritious food and live a healthy lifestyle which greatly helps to overcome anxiety and stress. To understand the yoga philosophy, you may consider reading Sri Sri Ravi Shankars Commentary on Patanjali Yoga Sutras.
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When My First Anxiety Attack Came On I Had No Idea What It Was
I was a senior in college, and when the symptoms first came on, I thought I was dying. I couldn’t see anything, I thought I was going to pass out, and my heart rate was out of control. I was an RA at the time, and I was responsible for all these people on my floor. I didn’t know what to do because I couldn’t breathe, so I called an ambulance, and one of the other RAs came by and asked if I was OK. I told him I wasn’t, so he stayed with me until the ambulance came.
Once they got there, they said they weren’t really sure what was going on. They thought I seemed OK, and they brought me to the ER and ran all these tests, and they still had no idea what it wasbut they mentioned something about anxiety.
So I went to the doctor and said, “I think I just had an anxiety attack; what can I do?” So they handed me Klonopin, which is a sedative. And I was like “OK, I’m in my senior year of college. The reason this is happening is because I’m trying to do a ton of things; I can’t take a sedative.