A Yoga Sequence to Combat Anxiety and Depression

*This is the third installment of Rachel Stagnaro’s series. Feel free to follow her company on Instagram. Stay vibing!”

This is a simple sequence made for a home practice that can be done any time of day. These poses specifically help to combat anxiety and depression and lift your spirits.

Easy Pose (Sukhasana)

Easy pose is ideal for meditation and will help to calm your mind, ease stress, open your hips, and strengthen your back, helping you feel strong and capable.

Begin by sitting with your sit bones pressed firmly into the floor. Cross your legs and place your feet beneath your knees, keeping your torso erect, your neck aligned with your spine, and your shoulders relaxed. Rest your hands on your knees, palms facing down. Take 10 deep breaths, focusing intently on the sensation of each inhale and exhale.

Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

This poses helps to combat anxiety and energizes the body.

Come onto the floor on your hands and knees. Set your knees directly below your hips and your hands slightly forward of your shoulders. Spread your palms and tuck your toes under. Exhale and lift your knees away from the floor. At first keep the knees slightly bent and the heels lifted away from the floor. Lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling and stretch your heels onto or down toward the floor. Straighten your knees but be sure not to lock them. Keep the head between the upper arms; don’t let it hang. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute, breathing deeply.

Wide-Angle Standing Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana)

This pose Calms jittery nerves and combats fatigue, lowers blood pressure, and increases blood flow to the brain.

Stand with your feet spread wide and aligned with the edges of the mat. Flex your legs, sweep your arms behind you, and interlace your fingers. (If your shoulders are prohibitively tight, hold onto a strap with both hands.) Hinge forward at your hips as if you are leaning over a bar. Keep your spine straight and drop your head, letting it hang toward the floor. If this is too intense on your hips, bend your knees slightly to take some pressure off of them. Hold this pose for eight to 10 breaths. Release your hands and move them to your hips, pressing your feet into the ground and bending your knees slightly as you slowly raise your torso and come out of the pose.

Child’s Pose (Balasana)

This pose releases spinal muscles and calms your nerves. This restorative pose encourages deep breathing, can help lower your blood pressure, and elicits a deep stretch.

Begin on your hands and knees. Bring the inside edges of your feet together, sliding your knees outward until they’re slightly wider than hip-width apart. Sit on your heels, drop your belly between the thighs, and lower your forehead to the floor. Reach out like a cat, keeping your elbows elevated as you extend your arms as far as possible along the ground in front of you. Hold for 10 to 15 breaths.

Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)

In addition to helping to relieve tension and anxiety, the seated forward bend produces a deep stretch in the lower back.

Start by sitting with your legs together and extended in front of you, and your sit bones (the bones directly under the flesh of your butt) planted firmly on the floor. Flex your feet so that your leg muscles are engaged, and rest your hands on the floor by your sides. Lift your chest toward the ceiling to straighten your spine, and then walk your hands down the sides of your body until you feel a deep stretch. Hold this pose for 10 breaths.

Legs up the Wall (Viparita Karani)

Most people spend the better part of each day with gravity pulling blood toward their feet. The legs up the wall pose help switch the flow in the other direction. It can also help slow your heart rate, lower your blood pressure, and relax your legs, hips, and back.

Lie flat on your back with your left side pressed against a wall. Lift your knees toward your chest, turn your body so that your bottom is against the wall, and then extend your legs up it toward the ceiling, allowing your arms to rest naturally by your sides, palms up. Hold that position for 10 to 15 breaths.

Corpse Pose (Savasana)

This pose can lower blood pressure, decrease anxiety and depression, relax the body, and eliminate headaches and fatigue.

Just find a quiet spot to lie down on your mat. Separate your feet so they are a bit wider than hip-width apart. Extend your arms out at a slight angle beside you with your palms facing up. Now close your eyes and breathe deeply for five minutes. Repeat whenever you feel overwhelmed or exasperated.

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