• Laura Lynch

Yoga for Anxiety

Updated: Apr 7, 2019

For those who have experienced Anxiety, you know that it comes in different forms- health, work, travel, study ..the list could go on and on. Anxiety can come upon us suddenly and unexpectedly, sometimes triggered by something, sometimes for no reason whatsoever. I have always wondered if there are ways of preventing these horrible waves of Anxiety before they happen.

We’ve all heard from one person or another that activities such as Yoga and Pilates can work wonders for stress, Anxiety and overall Mental Health. In my attempt to try to get a better understanding as to whether this is true or not, I spoke with fitness and Yoga instructor, Jamie Hill. Before I had a chance to take one of Jamie’s classes, I knew from speaking with him that yoga has had such a positive effect on his life. Since becoming a Yoga instructor several years ago, Jamie feels like 'he hasn’t worked a day', a feeling that I and so many people are definitely a little envious of. So, I decided to have a sit-down and get Jamie's professional input and thoughts on how Yoga can assist in managing and preventing feelings of Anxiety, help us to feel less stressed and live our best lives, here is how it went:

Can anyone do yoga?

Absolutely, 100%! I hear too many people saying they can’t try yoga because they’re 'not flexible enough’ and it’s a shame to hear that because you really don’t need to have any fitness or flexibility to practice yoga. Everyone is at different levels in yoga, just like they are in life. There is no competition in a yoga class, people are there for all sorts of different reasons, not to compete with each other.

I think platforms like Instagram can exploit yoga and people’s understanding of it as there tends to be a lot of photos posted online of people doing extreme poses and calling it a #YogaClass when realistically, it’s very rare that you would ever be expected to do any of those difficult movements in a yoga class.

What do you think people can gain from yoga?

There are so many different benefits of Yoga! For me, the main ones are:

· You gain more mobility /flexibility and will become physically stronger

· It can help with injury healing, management and prevention

· It can reduce stress and Anxiety by bringing your mind into the present moment.

· You will be calmer.

· You can become better equipped for dealing with stressful situations.

What types of Yoga do you teach/ recommend?

The main type of Yoga I teach is Ashtanga, it’s basically moving meditation - you link your breath to movement and move through a sequence. You memorise the sequence so much that you have no concern for anything else that’s going on in the outside world, the only thing you are focusing on is what the next movement is so it’s a great way to just switch off.

I also teach Beginner’s Flow. This is a bit slower and I explain things in more detail as we go along. It’s a great way to introduce people to yoga so they feel safe and confident to go on and try other classes.

Our yoga school also offers a Yin yoga class too. I don't teach this one but I often attend it. This is where you hold a posture for about 5 minutes at a time. This type of Yoga will help you become more flexible as it gets deep into your connective tissues to strengthen them up as well as strengthening your joints. I would recommend Yin yoga for someone who sits at a desk all day!

Can we use Yoga as a tool for managing Anxiety?

Yes, you definitely can. I have Anxiety myself so can tell you first hand that yoga gives you tools and skills to take away and use in your everyday life, to better cope with anxious days.

Anxiety tends to bring up regret and worries about things from your past and things in the future, yoga teaches us to come back to the present and focus on now. Personally, I prefer the mental side of yoga over the physical side. I get such a sense of calm from it and really enjoy what it brings to my life.

The fitness industry has grown so much; I feel it can be intimidating walking into a big open gym alone to workout sometimes. Is yoga the same?

No. I know what you mean about gyms being competitive, lots of people going there just to be seen there, trying to lift heavier than someone else and posting gym photos on Instagram has really taken off too. All of these things can of course be intimidating for someone who is just starting off or not very comfortable working out. Yoga is very different. It’s impossible to compare yourself to anyone else in a yoga class. The only person you can compete with is you and that’s only if you want to. Some people come to my classes simply just to breathe, stretch, relax and switch off.

Since talking with Jamie, I have been going to his Beginners Flow class and I would strongly recommend for everyone to give yoga a go, it can be such a nice escape. It’s a great way of training your mind and body to be calm, in the moment and better able to cope with whatever life throws at you.

For those of you who are interested in trying Yoga, Jamie is offering the first class free to anyone who would like to come along and give it a go. The classes are based in north Dublin and run every day of the week. Just drop Jamie a message on his Instagram page Yoga_at_the_gym if you would like to try it or have any questions.

With all of the above said, I really hope you were able to get an insight into how Yoga can help with Anxiety management. Thanks again for reading and a big thank you to Jamie for taking the time out to discuss this important topic with me!

Have a great weekend!

Laura xx.