Yoga For Social Anxiety

POV: The lockdown has been lifted and the pandemic is subsiding, you are free to go out and socialize, only now the thought of it makes you feel uneasy and nervous. It's normal to feel social anxiety in a post-pandemic scenario, as your mind and body has gotten used to staying indoors with minimal social interaction. Recall how uncomfortable it was to experience the lockdown for the first time: with curfews, restrictions on social gatherings and going outdoors, etc. But sooner or later, you become accustomed to it, so rest assured, you will once again feel comfortable and normal doing social activities, but it will take some time.

To speed things up, Yoga can help with relaxing the body and mind and alleviating social anxiety. Here are a few beginner-friendly yoga poses to help calm yourself and be in the present moment:

  1.  The Bow Pose: This pose derives its name from the final position which looks like an archer's bow.
Instructions: To achieve this pose, start with lying on your belly with your hands to your side, palms facing up. Exhale and bring your knees close to your butt, reach back with your hands and grab your ankles. Make sure that your knees are aligned with your hips throughout. Inhale and lift your heels away from the butt and your thighs away from the floor. This will have a pulling effect on the body, as if you were lifting yourself off the ground. Gaze forward and open your chest as your upper torso is raised.  To get out, gently, lower your heels and thighs bringing it close to your body and let go of ankles and return to starting position.
Benefits: Stretches the entire front of the body, Strengthens the back muscles, improves posture, Relieves respiratory ailments, mild backache, fatigue, anxiety, and menstrual discomfort. This pose will inculcate a feeling of confidence and make you feel strong to overcome anything that comes your way.
  1.  Big Toe Pose: This is a forward bending pose which will help you cope with the excess stress and help you release unwanted energy.
Instructions: Stand upright with your feet six inches apart, make sure your feet are inwardly parallel to each other. Keep your legs completely straight, exhale and bend forward from your hips, moving your torso and head as one unit. Slide the index and middle fingers of each hand between the big toes. Curl those fingers under and grip the big toes firmly, wrapping the thumbs around the other two fingers to secure grip. Press your toes down against your fingers. (If you can’t reach your toes without overly rounding your back, pass a strap under the ball of each foot and hold the straps.) Lift the top of your sternum as high as you can but take care not to lift your head so far that you compress the back of your neck. Keep your forehead relaxed. For the next few inhalations, lift your torso strongly as you continue to actively contract your front thighs; on each successive exhalation, strongly lift your sitting bones as you consciously relax your hamstrings. As you do this, deepen the hollow in your lower back. Finally, exhale and release your toes with your elbows softly pointed outwards and return to starting position.
Benefits: Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and anxiety, stretches the hamstrings, and calves, strengthens the thighs as well as helps relieve headache and insomnia.
  1. Equal Breathing: As the name suggests, this breathing technique will help equalize your breath and your breathwork is of utmost importance when it comes to mental health.
Instructions: Sit in any meditative posture as comfortable, elongate your spine, keep your palms on your thighs facing up, alternatively, feel free to hold any crystal you have handy. Gently close your eyes and focus your mind on your breath consciously, when ready take a slow deep inhalation to the count 1, 2, 3, 4 and gently exhale at the count 1, 2, 3, 4 without holding your breath. Make sure you’re exhaling without any rush. Continue to do 10 rounds of this breathing technique. Feel free to increase or decrease the counts as per your level of comfort.
Benefits: Promotes better circulation and oxygenates the brain, reduces stress and anxiety, and calms the body and mind.

Practice these poses daily to feel at ease and relaxed. If your anxiety worsens, it is recommended to see a therapist. Remember to be easy on yourself during this adjustment phase and give yourself enough time to normalize to social activities. 

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