Kundalini yoga is an invigorating blend of meditative and physical practices. It includes mudras, drishti, dynamic prana or breathwork, guided meditation and the chanting of mantras to increase consciousness and spark physical release. Those who practice Kundalini yoga are often brought into a state of calmness and focus that can eliminate the effects of anxiety. In this post, we’ll discuss the practice and benefits of Kundalini yoga for anxiety and depression.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental conditions in the U.S. Anxiety affects 40 million adults over the age of 18, or 18.1 percent of society. Research findings from Harvard University find that practicing yoga provides natural relief for anxiety, reducing its impact by lowering the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, in the body.
The very practice of Kundalini yoga assists in the release of stress from the body. But certain poses are known to encourage deep breathing along with heart and hip opening that can directly target parts of the body congested with tense energy. Here are a few of our favorite kundalini yoga poses for anxiety and depression:
Cobra Pose, a gentle belly backbend, opens the chest and lungs by allowing the yogi to take expansive breaths while lifting the heart and grounding the lower body into the mat. Deep breathing is known to combat the damaging effects of stress better than any other mechanism. It elicits the “Relaxation Response,” which is a state of deep rest that alters the body’s physical and emotional responses to stress by decreasing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure and relieving muscle tension.
Lotus Pose is a known asana for focus with an accompanying mudra that calls breath and clarity to mind. It’s a powerful stress reliever that invokes the message of transformation. Lotuses grow from muddy waters into beautiful, colorful beings. When you’re practicing Lotus Pose, concentrate on the image of growth in the face of adverse conditions, and watch as anxiety sinks beneath the surface.
Breath of Fire is a commanding, cleansing form of breathwork and a hallmark of Kundalini yoga. In Seated Breath of Fire Pose, the yogi sits in a comfortable upright position and breathes in and out through the nose, sucking the abdomen in during the exhale, and pressing it during the inhale, eventually shortening the lengths of the breath to produce quick, loud, strong prana. Breath of Fire combats anxiety by forcefully clearing the body of stress and the mind of clutter.
In Rock Pose, the yogi is literally shaped like a grounded rock, modifying a traditional Child’s Pose by curling the body into a tight ball and draping the arms by the side as the heart connects with the thighs and the head roots down to the mat. This pose enables a meditative state and allows the yogi to close their eyes and travel inward, focusing on breath and encouraging them to move away from anxious thoughts.
Camel Pose is a supreme backbend and all-around shifter of trapped energy and stress. This intense heart opener exposes the yogi’s chest, creating a sense of vulnerability in the body. To alleviate anxiety, we must overcome that vulnerability which keeps us from unleashing our realest selves. Once we experience a moment of true Kundalini release, our anxiety has nowhere left to hide.
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