5 Anxiety-Reducing Yoga Moves You Can Do at Home

Hallie Gould
PHOTO:

Kelsey Patel

I've touched on my issues with anxiety before—revealing the most effective (and all-natural) coping mechanisms I've tried thus far. And while it's helpful to employ treatments like guided meditation and acupuncture, they're not always readily available when you need them. Take last week, for example. I was having a particularly difficult day, started from almost-debilitating anxiety in the morning to tossing and turning through the night. It was a struggle to make it through the day, calm my body, and slow down my perpetually buzzing mind. I wasn't able to take time from work to see a specialist, but, rather, needed something I could do from my office or living room floor.

I know if I'm feeling this way, many others are too. According to the American Psychological Association, almost half of all Americans feel more stressed than they did five years ago. Kendall Jenner recently acknowledged her experience with anxiety and subsequent panic attacks. What it proves, really, is this issue doesn't discriminate.

To help, I sought out the expertise of Kelsey Patel, a jack of all trades in the wellness category. Patel is a leading meditation teacher at The Den Meditation in L.A., a reiki master, intuitive healer, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) specialist, a yoga and barre instructor, as well as a spiritual empowerment coach. If there was anyone who could help, it's her. She suggested a series of exercises and postures specifically targeted to relieve stress and anxiety from your body.

For a second opinion, I asked Dr. Sanam Hafeez PsyDa NYC-based licensed clinical psychologist, why this strategy works. She breaks it down: "When we start to be conscious of our bodies in motion we let go of worries, doubts, triggers that stress us out." Hafeez continues, ""Stress and anxiety occurs when we are focused on things we cannot control or future events. When we are focused on action and impacting outcomes we feel stressed. When we are in the moment and focused we let all of those concerns go. Exercise, stretching, breath work, yoga, meditation all require focus on body and breath first and foremost leaving little room for cluttered thoughts."

So let's get down to business, shall we? Below, Patel details exactly what you should do the next time you're feeling anxious (and why).

After trying each posture, Hafeez reminded me that the challenge is maintaining that calmer state of being long after exercising or stretching. "I encourage patients to do stretching and breathing at the start and end of every day," she recommended, "and take 10 minutes to write in an appreciation journal (like this one from Kikki.K, $19) after completing the exercises. You'll be in a better state of mind given the brain chemicals released during exercise and focused breathing. Write down things you appreciate. You'll set the tone for a positive day." So, I did just that. And guess what? It actually helped. 

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