Mind for Life

HEALTH
SIMPLE YOGA EXERCISES
TO HELP COPE WITH
STRESS AND ANXIETY
By Karthika Thomas
Counsellor/yoga instructor at Mind For Life

A beginners guide to yoga to help stretch,
strengthen and revitalize your body
and mind

Stress and anxiety have become an inevitable part of our lives. With the added challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has created, people are increasingly feeling more distressed as a direct result due to excess workloads, working from home, job loss, isolation, social distancing and many other factors it has caused throughout these unprecedented times.

Several experts have validated the importance of including exercise and relaxation techniques into your day to day life to combat the symptoms of stress and anxiety. The 3000-year-old, traditional yogic philosophy and practice described in Patanjali has been researched by several scholars to provide evidence on the therapeutic benefits of Yoga asanas (poses) on the mind and body with sustained practice (Woodyard, 2011). The good news is that yoga can be practiced in the comfort of your own home without any special equipment.
Here are some basic yoga asanas that can help you to reduce your stress and anxiety levels if practiced consistently. These yoga poses can be performed by beginners and does not require any supervision. Please be mindful of the steps and breathing methods involved in each asana.
Pranayam (Anulom Vilom- Alternate Nostril Breathing)
  • Sit in sukhasana (cross-legged comfortable posture) with back straight and palms on the knees facing up
  • Take your right thumb and close the right nostril, inhale from the left nostril
  • Close the left nostril and exhale from the right nostril
  • Continue this cycle for 1 to 2 minutes
  • Once you complete the cycles, breath normally
Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half spinal twist pose)
  • Sit with your legs stretched out straight
  • Place your right leg underneath your left thigh and left leg next to your right thigh
  • Place the right elbow on the left knee and place the left palm behind you
  • Twist your upper body towards the left side and feel the stretch on the spine
  • Stay in this pose for 10 seconds and then gently release
  • Repeat this on the other side
Janu Shirshasana (head-to-knee pose)
  • Sit with your legs stretched out straight
  • Fold your right leg and place the sole of your foot on the left thigh
  • The left toe is straight and pointed towards you
  • Inhale and lift your palms up
  • As you exhale, bend forward from your pelvis and hold your ankle or your calf muscles
  • Make sure your knees are straight and your back is straight and not rounded
  • Knees can be slightly bent if it is difficult to touch your ankle
  • Hole the asana for 10 seconds, inhale as you come back up and exhale while bringing your arms down
  • Repeat this on the other side
Matsyasana (fish pose)
  • Lie down on your back with legs stretched out
  • Reverse your palms, lift your head up and place the crown of your head on the floor
  • Back is arched and arms are placed on the sides of your body
  • Breath normally as you hold the pose for 10 to 15 seconds
  • Reverse your palms and gently release your head and place it back on the mat
  • Sit in Sukhasana, breath and relax,
Please be self-aware of any symptoms of stress and anxiety that may arise. If symptoms persist or worsen with time, please do not hesitate to seek support from the various mental health organisations or professional bodies to assist in overcoming these symptoms to feel your best again
By practicing yoga regularly, it will help boost your mental
and physical fitness to benefit your overall health and
well-being!

Reference:

Woodyard, C. (2011). Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life.

International Journal of Yoga, 4(2), 49.https://doi.org/10.4103/0973-6131.85485

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