5 Grounding Yoga Poses For When You Need Anxiety-Busting Comfort
Silence your phone, take a deep breath, and grab your yoga mat – let’s set aside some time to find some peace within.
In times of uncertainty and when anxieties are on the rise, finding solace in the following grounding yoga poses can help guide you back to a calming state.
Susy Markoe Schieffelin, certified yoga instructor and owner of The Copper Vessel, not only offered up step-by-step instructions for each move, but also explained the intent behind the poses for a more meaningful flow.
Schieffelin recommended starting your yoga practice with this short breathing meditation on days when your anxiety won’t quit. The grounding and detoxifying move helps to clear your mind, balance the hemispheres of your brain, open your heart and lungs, and connect you to the present moment.
- Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position.
- Extend your arms up to a 60-degree angle, creating a V shape.
- Curl your fingers into the pads of your palms so they are pressing down at the base of your fingers, and stick out your thumbs so they are extended and pointing toward each other.
- Tuck your chin down slightly.
- Roll your eyes upwards and inwards. You will feel a slight pressure between your brows, which stimulates your pineal gland and activates your third eye, calming your mind and connecting you to your intuition.
- Begin Breath of Fire: a rapid and rhythmic breath through the nose. Imagine snorting like a dragon and pushing the breath out from your lower belly. Focus on pushing out exhale through your nose, and allow yourself to receive the inhale (also through your nose) effortlessly.
- Continue for three minutes.
- To finish, inhale deeply and hold your breath as you stretch your arms up toward the ceiling. Touch your thumbs together and stretch your fingers high. After 15 seconds, slowly exhale and relax your arms down.
On a physical level, many people experience anxiety as energy in their gut or upper abdomen. If you are feeling a flutter in your belly, Schieffelin explained that this gentle movement from Kundalini yoga will help to move the restless energy so that you feel calm and grounded again.
- Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position.
- Place your hands on your knees.
- Keep your head upright and chin parallel to the ground as you push your heart forward and begin rotating your ribcage to the right, making a large circle.
- Inhale as you circle forward and exhale as you rotate back.
- Keep your sit bones grounded and connected to the floor beneath you. Imagine that your body is like a mortar and pestle, grinding into the earth.
- Continue for one minute, then change directions, circling to the left.
The Kundalini Frog exercise is a powerful way to get out of your head when you are feeling anxious or fearful. This posture balances your root chakra and will help you feel grounded. Moving in this way massages your kidneys, which expert Schieffelin said is where we store fear. It also balances your adrenal glands, which are responsible for producing the hormones that relate to our autonomic nervous system and can help shift us out of a fight or flight response.
- Sit in a squatting position, balancing on your toes with your feet apart and heels touching (when you look down at your feet, they should make an elevated “V” shape.)
- Spread your knees apart and place your fingertips on the floor to help you balance.
- Keep your heels elevated as you inhale, lift your hips, and stretch your legs. Do your best to straighten your legs, but if there is a slight bend, that is OK. Keep your hands on the floor for balance, and try to touch your nose to your knees.
- As you exhale, look up as you lower your hips back down to your heels, returning to your original squatting position. This counts as one “frog.”
- Continue this cycle for 26 rounds. Move as quickly as possible, and keep your breath connected to the movement.
- After you have completed 26 rounds total, sit down in Easy pose, and observe your breath as you take a moment to rest.
According to Schieffelin, this pose elongates the spine, fully stretches the back, and helps to calm the entire nervous system. It is a great move for relieving anxiety, as it cools the body and calms the mind.
- From Easy pose, sit up straight and extend both legs out in front of you.
- Flex your feet so that your toes point up toward the ceiling.
- Inhale as you stretch your arms straight up over your head.
- Exhale as you hinge at the hips and fold forward, reaching for your toes, ankles, or shins.
- Relax your head and neck, and allow yourself to melt over your legs. Breathe long and deep.
- Remain here for one minute, then slowly roll back up to a seated position.
Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)
Here, you’re working to gently bring the body into a state of deep relaxation. Schieffelin noted this is the perfect way to finish your yoga practice, as it will leave you feeling relaxed, refreshed, and rejuvenated.
- Sit and face an open wall before gently lowering your torso onto the ground as you lift your legs up against the wall.
- If your hamstrings are tight, you can place a pillow or blanket underneath your hips to elevate them slightly.
- Adjust your hips closer or further from that wall so that your legs are straight and resting comfortably.
- Once you have found a comfortable position (it should feel easy and effortless), rest your head on the floor and extend your arms out to either side.
- Focus on your breathing, inhaling through your nose, and exhaling through your mouth. Relax deeply. Stay here for five to 10 minutes.
If you or anyone you know is struggling and needs support, call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14, both of which provide trained counsellors you can talk with 24/7. You can also speak with someone confidentially at Headspace by calling 1800 650 890 or chat online here. If you are in immediate danger, call 000.