Taking care of your mind, body and spirit are vital to overcoming anxiety, which makes yoga one of the most valuable things you can have. It’s free and it’s powerful, whatever the styles you do. However, there are some styles of yoga for anxiety and depression that will prove to be more beneficial to you than others, and I have the scoop!
Benefits of Yoga for Anxiety and Depression
The benefits of various styles yoga for anxiety and depression is an entire topic in itself. To put it simply, yoga teaches you crucial breathing techniques and body movements that help relax your central nervous system, decrease your stress hormones, and alleviate symptoms of emotional and mental discomfort and tension.
With regular yoga, you learn how to be self-aware and how to maintain a calm and steady presence. This allows you to, even in the midst of a panic attack, stay calm and accepting, which is the key to overcoming anxiety. As a result, the panic decreases, you stop fearing the anxiety attack and when you stop fearing the attacks, they stop.
With the following styles of yoga for anxiety and depression, you will decrease feelings of being stressed, emotional, uneasy, distraught, uptight. This naturally puts you in a better place and in better health as a whole, which decreases anxiety and depression symptoms.
The better you treat your mind, body and spirit, the better your mental health.
Psychology Today breaks down the benefits of styles of yoga for anxiety and depression more specifically, explaining the following benefits of yoga as a whole:
Yoga regulates the breath
“Our breath is intimately connected to our nervous system. When we’re anxious we tend to take rapid, shallow breaths, or we might even unconsciously hold our breath and then take big gulping breaths. When we slow and deepen our breathing, we soothe the nervous system. Yoga can teach us to breathe with awareness and to use the breath to move through challenging poses. ”
Yoga lowers tension and encourages relaxation
“In times of high stress and anxiety, our bodies tend to constrict. We start to hold tension in our shoulders, necks, jaws, or elsewhere. Excessive muscular tension can then feed back to our minds and perpetuate the feeling of unease. When we experience the relaxation benefits of yoga, we can lower our physical tension, which helps release the grip that anxiety can have on us. ”
Yoga breaks up worry cycles
“All of us have had the experience of getting stuck in our heads, and chronic worries can be exhausting. When we step on the yoga mat, we have an opportunity to step out of the thinking mode. Our worries can of course come with us, and yoga gives us the opportunity to practice letting go of the worries and coming back to our bodies and breath, over and over. ”
Yoga teaches self compassion
“When we’re stressed and busy, it’s easy to stop doing things that are good for us, like exercising, getting enough sleep, and eating well. When we take 20 or 30 minutes to do something kind for ourselves like yoga, we treat ourselves as someone who’s worth taking care of. And as nice as it is to think well of ourselves, it’s at least as important to show that we care about ourselves.”
Yoga increases self-awareness
“We can also learn greater awareness of our bodies that can further lower our physical tension and stress away from the mat. We often carry unnecessary tension in our bodies, and through the practice of yoga we can get better at recognizing tension and letting go of it. ”
Yoga promotes self-acceptance
“The practice is grounded in an acceptance of where we are — to accept our bodies, abilities, and limits just as they are. Importantly, acceptance doesn’t have to mean resignation to stagnation. We can have an intention toward growth even as we see ourselves as fundamentally whole, just as an acorn is complete and yet isn’t done growing.”
Yoga teaches you how to accept discomfort
“We often move reflexively away from discomfort, and at times this retreat can lead us away from what we value. For example, avoiding activities that cause us anxiety will bleed the life out of our experience. I remember one time feeling extremely uncomfortable in a pose and feeling like I couldn’t hold it, and the yoga instructor said to the class, “You should be feeling uncomfortable right now.” Just knowing that discomfort was expected made it more tolerable: It was just discomfort, no better, no worse. I didn’t have to run from it. ”
10 Powerful Styles of Yoga for Anxiety and Depression
There are various styles of yoga; finding the styles of yoga for anxiety and depression allows you to narrow in on a practice that caters to your intentions and desires.
1. Yin Yoga
Good for: Chilling out, unwinding and alleviating stress and anxiety
Get started with: The Foundations of a Quiet Practice DVD
I wanted to start with Yin yoga styles for anxiety and depression because I recently started this type of yoga. To put it simply, it’s literally the calmest style of yoga out there. In fact, this style of yoga for anxiety and depression often makes you feel ‘yoga stoned’ because you become so relaxed and chilled out. It’s all about bringing the yin into your life – a life often overpowered by yang.
It’s easy, anyone can do it and it is incredible at activating the parts of the nervous system that help you overcome stress and anxiety. Yin yoga will teach you how to find your inner zen, as it’s all about calming your mind, body and spirit to bring balance into your life.
2. Hatha Yoga
Good for: Yogi beginners and learning how to breathe properly
Get started with: Hatha and Flow Yoga DVD
If you’re new to this whole ‘yoga for anxiety’ thing, don’t worry. I was there just a couple of months ago and it can seem totally intimidating but it really isn’t at all.
Hatha yoga is one of the best styles of yoga for anxiety to start with as it’s straight forward and teaches you the basics. You learn how to breathe, pose, relax, meditate and all the good stuff that are vital to achieving mindfulness and alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression.
3. Restorative Yoga
Good for: Slowing down and recollecting yourself
Get started with: Restorative Yoga Practice for Beginners DVD
With a name like ‘Restorative Yoga’, it’s no surprise that it’s one of the best styles of yoga for anxiety. With restorative yoga, you learn how to relax and soothe your nerves. The practice is slow and mellow, allowing you to tap into a deeper level of relaxation that can be more rejuvenating than taking a nap as it takes into your (parasympathetic) nervous system.
4. Kundalini Yoga
Good for: Connecting with your mind, body and spirit on a deeper level
Get started with: Kundalini Yoga for Beginners and Beyond DVD
Kundalini yoga is an entirely unique style of yoga for anxiety and depression. It’s both physically and mentally challenging, that incorporates intense breathing patterns, meditation and even sometimes chanting and singing.
This style of yoga is designed to break down your internal barriers that are keeping you from achieving inner peace and relaxation. As a result, you learn how to be more self-aware which helps you learn navigate through your panic attacks more efficiently.
5. Forrest Yoga
Good for: Releasing emotion tension and pain
Get started with: Namaste Yoga Complete Series DVD
Forrest yoga is a style of yoga that isn’t as commonly talked about as all the rest. However, it’s definitely one you need to know about as an anxiety sufferer. This type of yoga teaches you how to release tension and pain by using challenging sequences that tap into your emotions.
6. Integral Yoga
Good for: Clearing the mind of stress and anxiety
Get started with: Integral Yoga with Master DVD
Integral yoga is a gentle practice that will help you clear your mind of stress and anxiety. It involves various breathing techniques, deep relaxation, meditation and postures that are designed to condition your mind, body and spirit. As such, it’s one of the best styles of yoga for anxiety and depression.
7. Kripalu Yoga
Good for: Learning to thrive with mental illness
Get started with: Feel Better Now with Kripalu Yoga DVD
You might have anxiety, depression or another form of mental illness but you can still prevail. Kripalu yoga uses relaxation techniques, medication and various styles of yoga. Throughout the practice, you learn how to observe the different sensations in your mind and body. This allows you to be self-aware in the midst of an attack. As a result, you’ll also come out of one just as fast.
8. Om Yoga
Good for: Achieving mindfulness, clarity and mental strength
ohm. Repeat after me. ohm.
Om yoga is a style of yoga designed to strengthen you mentally. It has a lot of ancient Buddhist concepts that are known for bringing mindfulness and compassion into your life.
9. Para Yoga
Good for: Increasing self-awareness and mental clarity
Similar to the prior, Para yoga is deeply rooted in tradition Buddhist concepts. It involves meditation, bandhas (locks) and mudras (poses) to increase your self-awareness and mental clarity. This helps you recognize the sensations and symptoms of anxiety when they occur, so you can overcome more efficiently.
10. Vini Yoga
Best for: Achieving therapeutic elements
Get started with: Viniyoga for Anxiety and Depression 2 DVD
Vini yoga is commonly used as a therapeutic tool for the body. It incorporates breathing techniques, meditation and different movements to trigger your breath, memory, voice, character, heart and intellect. As a result, you learn how to reduce negativity, cultivate positivity and transform your situation into something better.
There are various styles of yoga but if you’re looking to start this powerful practice with hopes of alleviating symptoms of anxiety, focus on the best styles of yoga for anxiety and depression.