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Feeling Anxious?

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

I’m wearing green today in support of Mental Health Awareness Week. Anxiety is the theme this year. Yoga has been proven as an effective tool in the reduction of anxiety


Results from a study in the International Journal of Yoga* show that yogic practices enhance muscular strength and body flexibility, promote and improve respiratory and cardiovascular function, promote recovery from and treatment of addiction, reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, improve sleep patterns, and enhance overall well-being and quality of life.

Anxiety is a normal emotion in us all, but sometimes it can get out of control and become a mental health problem. Symptoms of anxiety can vary from person to person, but some common symptoms include excessive worry or fear, restlessness, irritability, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, and sleep disturbances. Physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, and rapid heartbeat may also occur.

Our Flight Flight response was designed to protect us from quick physical attacks. After an attack, the body starts to disperse cortisol and heads back towards homeostasis. However, many causes of anxiety nowadays are mental rather than physical, for example, worries about having enough money for basic needs, or the stress of exams and the fear of failure. When the threat is sustained for extended periods of time, cortisol levels stay chronically high, affecting our ability to function and sleep.

Changing hormones in puberty and menopause can also cause a spike in anxiety, so it’s a good time to learn some techniques in order to manage this unknown territory and to know that you can improve your inner awareness and regain control over your emotions, rather than the other way round.

In the Five Element Approach, anxiety is mostly associated with a deficiency of energy flow or an imbalance of Yin and Yang. The solution isn’t a one size fits all, more a holistic approach taking in the whole you, which addresses the root cause of your emotions.

The energy of anxiety is an upward movement, creating a sense of overwhelm in the heart and head. As soon as you feel anxious, I recommend taking some steps to ground your energy.

My Top 7 Grounding Activities

Feel the grass beneath your feet

Sing, shout, chant

Walk, march, run, handstand

Drum, play the piano

Send your breath downwards to your belly

Stretch out your quads and hip flexors

Lie down and put your feet up the wall

Don’t Hold Your Breath

Just a quick word about holding your breath. You may see recommended breathing patterns for anxiety such as 4:7:8 or 5:5:5 (inhale: hold: exhale), but I really advise against this. Holding the inhale drives the sympathetic nervous system state of Fight Flight, and is counterproductive. Research has shown that it can be dangerous and is contra-indicated for teens who have a mental health condition as it can worsen it and even lead to psychosis. Also, if you’ve ever tried holding your breath while panicking, you’ll know that it’s impossible and adds more stress to the moment.

inhale for 1, exhale for 1 slowly

And don’t get me started about cold water swimming!

It can seem as though your anxiety is here to stay, however with the help of a therapeutic yoga specialist, you can learn some breathing techniques, essential oils, acupressure points, affirmations, lifestyle tweaks and specific movement designed to calm the nervous system down and return to feeling like you again. Yoga practices have been shown to increase levels of serotonin in the brain, thus alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety**.

If you suffer from anxiety, it’s time to prioritise your health.

Let’s arrange a chat - it’ll make your life so much easier and you’re worth it.


**Yoga for psychiatric disorders: from fad to evidence-based intervention? (The British Journal of Psychiatry. 15 Nov 2019

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