Many people take up yoga for anxiety. While plenty of people have their doubts, it’s undeniable that yoga can be good for both the mind and body. The evidence isn’t just anecdotal either; there are studies backing that fact.
If you have trouble dealing with anxiety, yoga may be for you. Today we’ll talk about some of the basics of how it can help, how to get into it, and more.
The Basics of Yoga
If you research the benefits of yoga, you may see some big claims. It should first be admitted in any serious discussion of the practice that some of those claims are not backed by science. The good news is that plenty is.
If you’re unfamiliar, yoga is something of a blanket term for a group of physical and mental practices. Many people think of yoga as “stretching,” which is an oversimplification but can be a good starting point if you have no context.
Yoga is generally performed via a series of poses combined with breathing techniques. Meditative and spiritual elements are often used as well, helping a person remain calm and grounded.
There are many levels of yoga. There are poses and techniques for people of almost any fitness and skill level. As you advance, you can choose to try more challenging poses, which best fit your goals.
Can You Use Yoga for Anxiety?
As we touched on in the introduction, yoga can be great for handling anxiety. Some of the benefits of yoga include:
- Stress relief
- Anxiety relief
- Heart health
- Pain relief
- and more
While it shouldn’t replace regular care, yoga can even help with things like depression and diagnosed anxiety disorders. The running theory is that it helps to modulate stress response systems in the body.
One of the great things about yoga is that it can help both body and mind at the same time. That is putting aside the fact that improving your physical health can, itself, improve your mental health.
This all said, remember yoga is a tool to help your mental health, not a cure. If you have serious issues with your mental health, consider something like the care the Mental Health Center of San Diego or similar experts can provide.
Getting Into Yoga
While some people may be intimidated by yoga, it is very easy to try. There are even books aimed at helping children get started. The basic poses are quite simple and the internet is full of videos online walking through how to do them.
Beginner poses should also be safe for almost anyone to try, too. The one exception maybe if you have certain health issues. If you’re worried, ask your doctor.
If yoga isn’t a risk to you but your mobility is limited, try some modified poses. You might even be able to work with a yoga expert or physical therapist to figure out what would work best for you.
We might also recommend beginners sign up for a yoga class. It can help you make sure you get your technique right. The instructor can give you pointers and help guide you through a series of poses for a healthy workout.
As you keep going, it is up to you whether you continue with the class. Yoga is easy to do at home once you know what you’re doing. The equipment is not very expensive either.
However, classes can also be good if you want to try more advanced poses. Some poses can be hard on the body and even dangerous if you mess up. You’ll want some help from an expert before trying these at home.
Yoga and Meditation
On its own, much of yoga is often meditative. You focus on your breathing and the poses your body is making. It can be great for learning to let go, at least for a time, of other things you’ve been thinking about.
That said, there is also what is called yoga meditation. As the name implies, this type of yoga more directly involved engaging in meditation at the same time.
Often this type of yoga involves simple poses. Your efforts are focused instead on your own thoughts and your breathing.
This type of yoga can be great if you are mostly looking to improve your mental health through yoga. If you’re not interested in too much physical strain, try this type of yoga before giving up completely.
If you’re skeptical, it’s worth noting many people have the wrong idea about meditation:
- You aren’t “clearing your mind” but learning not to dwell on intrusive thoughts
- While some meditation and yoga are spiritual, religion does not have to be an element of either
- Science says both yoga and meditation have real effects, even if some people make hyperbolic or unscientific claims that themselves aren’t true
Even more so than regular yoga, we would recommend trying a class or at least watching a video on yoga meditation before doing it. Meditation can be frustrating to newcomers, who may not understand the goals of meditation.
Dealing With Anxiety? Yoga Can Help
Using yoga for anxiety is a common and valid reason to get started. If you’ve been wondering why you should do yoga, it’s because it can have real, proven effects on your mental health. Mixed with other healthy lifestyle choices, the impact can be dramatic. If you struggle with your mental health, we hope you’ll consider contacting us. At the Mental Health Center of San Diego, we’ve made it our job to help treat those struggling with their mental health. The chances are good we may be able to help you too