Anxiety and stress are states everybody can experience. Regardless of how strong physically, mentally and emotionally you are, sometimes experiences, situations and even encounters with other people can trigger something within which can cause the nervous system to go into fight or flight mode. Even going through this once can cause stress to the body and the mind. Whilst one of the best ways to help release anxiety is meditation, asana practice is also beneficial.
Practicing yoga can certainly help with creating a more harmonious state within, bringing in balance the physical, mental and emotional self. Try these 7 asanas that will empower you to feel stronger, more grounded and self-aware.
ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA
Downward facing dog provides a great stretch to the whole body, creating space for the prana to flow freely. It is a posture that teaches us to bring our attention inward and create balance throughout the whole body. When we feel stressed, we can experience muscle tension, stiffness and energetic blockages. Adho mukha svanasa helps us release these providing a calming effect to the mind.
Anxiety can bring to the surface the internal chaos we feel and this can cause us to feel out of balance. By practicing tree pose, we learn how to ground ourselves and connect with earth’s energy. Vrksasana is great for bringing our awareness to the present moment, to learn how to focus and concentrate on being still. By standing on one leg at a time, this strengthens the ankles and legs, both parts of Mooladhara, the root chakra. This is the energy centre in the body which governs our sense of stability, security and survival.
Any of the warrior asanas are empowering and help to boost confidence, but warrior II is a great one to start with. As part of the standing asanas, Virabhdrasana II creates balance and grounding in the body. In my opinion, this asana is one of the most empowering of all, because it requires us to focus and concentrate, to open the heart space, to keep our feet firm on the ground and to be still. On a physical level, it strengthens the legs, ankles and improves posture. When anxiety is experienced, we can feel weak and helpless, but warrior II brings our awareness back to our inner strength.
GENTLE SPINAL TWISTS
Paying attention to the spine is vital, because it is the centre of communication between the body and the brain. Practicing gentle spinal twists can release any tension and blockages experienced in this area, but also from the mind. There is a saying “A flexible spine equals a flexible mind” and when we free the spine we also free the mind. Anxiety is almost always a response to something we consciously or unconsciously fear, and by freeing the mind, there is no space for fear to be there.
This asana activates Manipura, the solar plexus chakra. This represents our energy centre in the body of self-confidence, self-esteem and personal power. Anxiety usually occurs by a fearful state, which is why the fight or flight response if activated. Connecting with our inner strength and understanding the personal power we have from within is a great way to let go of fear. This asana also empowers us to mental clarity and releasing the layer of fog that can sometimes cloud the mind.
EKA PADA RAJAKAPOTANASANA
Pigeon pose is another great hip opener, therefore helping us release any blocked emotional tension from the body. It can feel challenging especially if you are experiencing lots of tightness in this area. If you find that your body needs some support, you can place a cushion or bolster under the hip. This asana also relieves tension from the groin and lengthens the spine. When practicing pigeon pose, we go inward, observing what is going on within without reacting. Instead we trust that we can reach and maintain stillness, feeling grounded and focusing on the hip area as we let go on the uncomfortable build up of tension.
The arrival of Mercury retrograde comes with many different energy shifts. Even those who are not really familiar with astrology and the planetary aspects can feel these changes and voice their confusion, without actually knowing what is going on. The truth is, none of us know. Mercury retrograde can bring surprises and past experiences to the surface. This is so that we can revisit aspects of our life which we have not yet dealt with or have completely released.
Whilst Mercury Retrograde can bring a heavy feel, it is also a blessing. It is a time when we can pause, reflect and release. Although it can feel like a period of great difficulty for some, we sometimes need to experience difficulties so that we can move past the fog within shadowing our vision and soul. Here are 6 powerful affirmations you can use during this period.
I accept all that once was and let it go.
This period empowers us to let go of the old, but we cannot do so unless we come to terms with it. Acceptance can be hard, but it is necessary. Experiencing inner peace comes with letting go of anything that continues to create chaos to our mind, body and soul. Your past does not define you nor does it have to linger inside of you.
I invite love and light in my heart, mind and body.
Mercury Retrograde may not a good time to manifest new beginnings, because of the intensity it brings but it can come with much needed clarity. Instead of new goals, focus on getting yourself back on track emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. Love is the purest emotion we can feel and we all have the ability to experience it. Love is light and when what we do comes from a place of love, we are at peace with our actions.
I forgive myself and others for not knowing better at the time.
Mercury retrograde can bring situations or people from our past as a means to revisit old wounds that need to be healed; as well as dealing with unfinished past relationships. The most important step for releasing the past is to forgive yourself and forgive others. By forgiving yourself, you are acknowledging that you can create a more authentic, kinder self in this present moment, having learnt from your mistakes. By forgiving others, you release any negative energy there may be and also clearing yourself emotionally from any toxic emotions you may be holding onto.
I trust my soul's guidance and I know that it takes me exactly where I am meant to be.
Learning to trust yourself, your journey and the universe will take you one step closer to feeling free. When you experience freedom, the mind becomes more clear; the heart is more open to new experiences and the body becomes more connected with the intuition. Like forgiveness, trust is also a state which takes patience; it is a process of healing and restoring a new found connection with the self, others and the world.
I am made of love, I am made to love, I am made to be loved.
We all have an infinite amount of unconditional love within us. Sometimes, due to certain experiences, relationships and situations we can forget this and become disconnected from it. The truth is, the most natural state we can be as human beings is by living from a place of love. It is the centre and core of the relationship we develop with the self, with others and with the environment around us. Become aware of this and know that you are love, that you are worthy of being loved and that your love is needed in the world.
I am a beautiful, unique and vibrant soul and my contribution to the world is needed.
The energy shifts that come with Mercury retrograde can cause all sorts of emotional outbursts, frustrations and ego based behaviours. These can result in self-doubt, low self-esteem and fears. This affirmation is a beautiful reminder that we all have a purpose and we are here on this planet to share it with the rest. You are unique and your contribution to the world is important and necessary. This affirmation can also restore self-confidence and clarity about your soul's journey.
Affirmations are a great way to create a healthier and more positive mindset and lifestyle. Remember that you must go through the darkest periods in order to recognise the brightest light. And know that everything is temporary in life, that experiences come and go and that all there is in this moment.