Anxiety. We’ve all been there – sweaty palms, racing thoughts, quickened heartbeat. Anxiety can strike before a big presentation, an important meeting or a first date. Or sometimes it can creep up on you when you’re tired or under-slept. When it surfaces, anxiety can rob you of the joy of the moment, and it can zap your energy.
So here’s one simple, discrete yoga pose to have in your ‘yoga tool belt’ when anxiety strikes, depending on where and when you find yourself. While you are out and about or at work, you can take a moment to go into a bathroom stall, close the door and practice this pose and you might just come out a much calmer, saner version of yourself. (Take it from someone who has done this many times!)
Standing Forward Fold is in almost every yoga class – and it is often overlooked as a transitional posture. However, this posture can have incredible benefits – forward folds such as this stimulate the pineal gland in the centre of your brain. This gland produces melatonin and serotonin – hormones that moderate your rest patterns and release your ‘happy hormones’ connected to feeling more centred, calm and safe in the world. These hormones literally tell your brain to switch into rest mode.
Try it out today – stand with your feet hip-width distance, bring your hands to your hips, inhale, and as you exhale bend at the hips. Bend your knees generously – this releases the lower back and allows you to release any tension in your neck, jaw or face. Bring your hands to each elbow and hang here, allowing your weight to naturally stretch your spine and shoulders, releasing all tension. Stay here for 5 full deep breaths, slow and mindful. To come up, pull the belly to the spine and slowly bring yourself to standing. Take 3 more deep breaths standing up with your feet firmly planted into the floor before returning to the rest of your day.
(Tip for anyone with blood-pressure or lower back issues – you can try a modification of this by lying on the floor – keep your head, upper body and spine firmly planted on the floor / mat and lengthen the legs up the wall, bend the knees if you need. Stay here for 10 breaths. This is a really nice pose for first thing in the morning or last thing at night.)