Yoga Therapy for Anxiety
In Yoga Therapy for anxiety, we focus on breathing deeply and slowly ideally through the abdomen to enhance grounding and safety (unless otherwise indicated) enhancing the exhalation with humming, with pursed lips exhalation, with inhaling through both nostrils and exhaling through one, by chandra bedhana inhaling through the left and exhaling through the right.
We are very supportive, we talk slowly, we try to change the way the appraise situations (threatening) and themselves (not strong enough), we enhance safety cues, and we gradually slowing down the pace of the practice with more stillness than repetitions.
To focus the mind, we prefer alternating right and left side, legs and arms (contralateral movements), a few repetitions of different modifications or asanas, and posture balances.
We introduce self-touch/nyasa in practices for the grounding effect.
Regarding the sequence of exercises, we usually start from upright positions [reflecting the state of energy (rajasic) they are in] and progressively descend and complete with supine positions and with guided relaxation incorporating stillness and stability that promote safety elements.
We incorporate pelvic movements, since anxiety fear and loneliness are mostly vata characteristics and pelvis is considered the seat of vata, focusing on pelvis grounding is promoted.
We prefer simple forward bends and twists that may change the way they see things but also to release tension from the auxiliary breathing muscles (in the shoulder and neck area) that are often affected in anxiety.
Mantras should be explored either from the beginning or in the middle of the practice and in the breathing practice. Chanting should be included at least at the end lowering the volume of the voice progressively (a laghana way).
Because the vocal chanting is more exteriorizing and the mental chanting is more interiorizing while the higher volume and speed has a more brahmana effect and the lower volume a more laghana effect, in anxiety we prefer internalizing chanting of a lower volume and a speed that has a laghana effect, at least to finish with even if we start with the opposite.
The overall strategy is laghana, to eliminate the anxiety, building feelings of safety and competency.