Yin Yoga: A Fast, Free and Easy Rx for Anxiety

Cat Pulling its Tail

 By Stefanie Arend

In our busy world, anxiety affects more people than ever. We power through late nights at work, are constantly bombarded by messages even after leaving the office, and are haunted by performance pressure in the classroom and workplace. The internet makes it easier than ever to compare ourselves to others and harder than ever to escape daily stress. Living in this hyperactive environment, it is no wonder that so many of us experience persistent feelings of worry and unease.

There are many kinds of anxieties, and most are associated with the loss of confidence—particularly basic trust, which is developed in childhood. Anxiety is often noticeable at the physical level. For example, anxiety may physically manifest through increased blood pressure, tense muscles, and especially shallow breathing.

It is important to face your fear to find out its cause. Anyone confronted by anxieties should work through them and not run away from them. A state of anxiety often resolves itself quickly if you stand up to it, like a dark cloud passing.

What is important is to strengthen the basic trust again and constantly ground yourself—for example, by walking in the countryside, frequently sitting on the ground, walking barefoot, or working in the garden. A lovely expression captures this idea well: “Anxiety knocked on the door, trust opened it, and nobody was there.”

Yin Yoga practice teaches us a wonderful way to let go—physically, emotionally and mentally. Today, I want to share a simple but powerful way to leave our worries behind in this busy, modern world. See the following short sequence of easy poses to help alleviate anxieties and bring serenity into your life.

I’d also like to share one of my favorite meditations, which I do every night before I go to bed: Yin Chakra Meditation, which cleanses the energies we collect throughout the day. Join me for the meditation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFkACymvEdI&t=94s

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Alternate Nostril Breathing has a balancing effect, as you harmonize both of the main energy channels, Ida (left) and Pingala (right), which correspond to Yin and Yang. Do Alternate Nostril Breathing until you feel balanced.

Sit on the mat in Easy Pose and straighten your spine. Bend the index finder and middle finger of the right hand to the palm (the left-handed may wish to do the left) and stretch the ring finger and small finger out loosely. You can also place the index finger and middle finger on the forehead chakra. Now close the left nostril with the ring finger and the right nostril with the thumb. Hold your nose very gently without applying any pressure. Keep your head straight and your right elbow to the side of your body. Start by inhaling on the left side, holding the right nostril closed while doing this. After inhaling, close the left side again, open the right, and take a long breath out. Then inhale again on the right and exhale again on the left. That is one complete breathing cycle.

You can also hold your breath between inhaling and exhaling. Ideally, the exhale should be longer than the inhale. Then let your hand sink down to your leg again and feel the effect.

Cat Pulling Its Tail

(Photo top of page)

Lie on your left side and position your head comfortably on your left arm. Bend your right knee and angle your leg at 90 degrees in front of the body. Now also bend your left knee and grip your left ankle with the right hand behind your back, so that you come into a gentle rotation. Alternatively, you can also grip your pants or use a yoga belt. Either remain balanced lying on the side, or shift your weight back a little more. Direct your breath into your stomach to strengthen the detoxifying effect of this exercise on your stomach organs.

Hold the position for three to five minutes, then release the hand from your foot, turn back to the center and change sides.

Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Child’s Pose is good if you need time to recover or if you wish to neutralize between exercises. The position relaxes the back, shoulders and neck. It stretches the bridges of the foot and the ankles, relaxes the spine and evenly massages the stomach organs.

For the classic Child’s Pose, sit on your heels and let your upper body sink forward. Your arms are stretched out relaxed next to your legs, and your forehead touches the floor. If you wish, you can put a blanket underneath you. Alternatively, you can place one fist on top of the other and place your forehead on them. Keep your legs closed or open, whichever feels more comfortable. Remain in the position as long as it feels good and then roll out of it again slowly.

Stefanie Arend is a renowned Yin Yoga instructor, holistic health coach, nutritionist and energy worker. As the first German author to focus exclusively on Yin Yoga, she is the author of six books, including the classic bestseller, Yin Yoga: The Gentle Way to the Inner Center (2011) and Surya Namaskar: The Sun Salutation (2014), both of which were named Best Yoga Book of the Year in German-speaking countries. Be Healthy with Yin Yoga is her first English language book. For more information about Stefanie or to watch her videos, please visit her website at https://www.yinyoga.de/en/ and her YouTube channel at https://www.you tube.com/user/Stefanie1a/videos

Photo credits: Forster & Martin Fotografie, Munich, Germany

This is an excerpt from Be Healthy with Yin Yoga: The Gentle Way to Free Your Body of Everyday Ailments and Emotional Stresses by Stefanie Arend and published by She Writes Press. Reprinted with permission.



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