Yoga for Depression Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 11

Move Through Anxiety

35 min - Practice


Linda shares a movement practice to help ease the symptoms of anxiety and find a sense of grounding.
What You'll Need: Mat, Blanket, Block (2)

About This Video


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Namaste and welcome to your practice today. Let's get started and move some energy through the body. We're going to go ahead and get started in a wide-knead child's pose. If you need a little blanket for your knees, good time to do it. Spread it out.

Those are touching or close to touching as possible, and it's a nice wide child's pose. Then from here, we're going to do is very gently begin to take it down just as far as the body is willing to go. This may be the pose for you or your body may be pretty excited about bringing the head down to the mat. We're going to stay here for about three minutes. I'm not going to pretend that it's going to be comfortable, but I just want you to take a nice deep breath now, and I invite you to exhale it completely.

Just take a bit to do a little internal inventory, see if you can feel the position of your body on the earth. You feel the ground underneath you. By now, it's possible that you're feeling some tension in your inner thighs. Just notice and release as much muscular effort as you can so that you feel like you're in the pose instead of working the pose, yeah? Then begin to notice the breath.

Is it possible to elongate the breath and keep it pretty even? If you find you're holding your breath or it's feeling agitated, gently come out of the pose or release the knees in a little bit more. Keep the eyes soft, the jaw released, and the pelvic floor muscles released. It's an invitation throughout your whole practice to check in with the eyes, the jaw, and the pelvic floor. The more the jaw is clenched and the eyes are bugging out, the more that signals your body that you're in trouble or that you're anxious.

Those will be your allies throughout the practice. Now very, very slowly begin to sit up, not being too eager to close your knees just yet. Close your eyes for a moment and receive the effects of that yin pose. Then bring your hands to tabletop and very slowly bring the knees parallel to one another and just extend that back leg long, kind of stretching out the knee, releasing the hip. You can move it around a little bit.

Shake it out and do the other side, just nice. Just shaking it out and then from here, just extend those arms long as you stick the sitting bones right up to the ceiling and release the head and neck into puppy pose, nice. Feeling the ground once again, this is your tadasana part of your pose and then with the soft jaw, soft eyes, find the shavasana in it, the joy, the lift in this pose. Then whenever you're ready, curl those toes under and come into downward facing dog. Once again, strength in the hands, determination in those legs, feel your sense of ground.

Bending your knees a little bit, sticking those sitting bones up to the sky, staying there if that feels more comfortable, otherwise just start to grow your legs long, nice. Keep inhale and exhale, bend those knees, look forward and begin to walk to the top of your mat, releasing into uttanasana, standing forward bend. Releasing your hands, move your feet slightly apart, hip distance apart, just bending your right knee, place your right hand between your feet and move into a nice twist. I like to put my hand on my sacrum first so that my front of my spine is enjoying a nice length, yeah? Release and do the other side, gently bend the left straighten the right, once again sacrum, know where you are before you know where you're going and then lift up.

Release and once again, go ahead and just bring the sitting bones down toward the earth as you bring your hands to your thighs, inhale, press as you exhale and lift up to standing. Close your eyes and receive, if you can feel the energy moving down into your feet. Keep that energy down as you rise up, taking those arms up overhead, gentle back bend, clasp the fingers and turn your hands inside out. Take a nice deep inhale and exhale to grow those arms as you press in to the earth, strong determination but once again, where's the shavasana, soft eyes, easy neck, yeah? Press down to lift one more time and exhale into tadasana, nice, nice.

Let's play with a little sound, it really takes that energy into the body and helps to regulate the nervous system, inhale up. And exhale, as you come down to prayer pose again, inhaling up and exhale to prayer. Last one, big inhale and exhale hands to heart. So if you have a blanket on your mat, let's go ahead and put it to the side now and come back to center, come back to the top of your mat and let's go ahead and just take a nice wide stance, turning the right foot out, the left foot in, take a big inhale up and commit to a nice warrior to big strong action in the legs, gentle focus in the arms. One last time, take it up, exhale and commit.

So pressing through that back leg, yes, can you sense a little buoyancy in those arms since you're going to be keeping them up for a moment, what can we do to make them feel a little bit more comfortable? Inhale and exhale to nice reverse, oh, feel that. Nice inhale and exhale to side angle and this time, once again, take your hand to the sacrum so that you feel this opening in the chest, pressing through that back foot, take the arm overhead so from the fingertips to the back foot, there's a nice sweet connection of strength and resilience, lovely. Take it on up to warrior and release, do the other side, all right and again, plant yourself on earth, spread those arms all the way up and release right into that pose, pressing through that back foot, do it again, up and ah, last one, take it up and let's just hold it here and see where you land, pressing through that back foot, looking up over that middle finger, staying in sensation, staying in the present, it's a beautiful pose to show us that we are powerful exactly where we are right now, not worrying about the past, not wondering about the future, we are here. Taking a nice deep breath in, take a nice ah, reverse and exhale to side angle again, taking a nice opening in the chest first and then once your shoulder gives you the go ahead, press from the back foot all the way to the fingertips, yes, press, if you're gripping with your face, probably don't need that for this pose, do you?

Inhale up to warrior, exhale, move both feet to their parallel and this time take your hands behind you, pressing down as you clasp the fingers, looking up to a nice little back bend and exhaling forward, ah, hmm, hmm, let are those lips on that exhale, releasing the hands so that it looks like you're in dog pose, the front part of your body or the upper part of your body and downward facing dog in the lower part, finding space throughout the torso, releasing the neck and the head, lovely, start coming back so that your feet are in line with your hands and very slowly put one hand on your sacrum, the other hand on the other side, strong legs, press and lift up to standing and then heel toe your legs together, so they should be about hip distance apart and let's move into three. I'm just going to take one quick minute to say when you're anxious it's so hard to balance, if you're not balanced in your life it's really hard to balance on the mat, so bring the energy down into your feet, just feel your feet, take an inhale to release the pelvic floor and exhale and scoop the energy up and find your tree. And when you're ready to come out, release the leg, let's notice the other side, let's play, move into those feet, release the pelvic floor and inhale, scoop up on the exhale as you draw the leg up to its tree, trees blowing the wind a lot, so as you come down if you feel like going back up again, that's okay too, just closing your eyes and receiving. Then moving to the top of your mat if you're not already there, take those arms up, lift up and exhale completely as you float over your legs, inhale halfway up and exhale all the way down and just taking your back foot way back there in your other foot into plank and move into downward facing dog. Again where's the power, where's the connection, where's the vulnerability and the receptivity.

So bringing your left foot toward the center, raise your right leg straight up to the sky, pressing into your hands, inhale and exhale your leg forward into pigeon, allow your back leg to be active and as straight as possible. We like to call this pose swan in yin because I really would invite you to be regal and it's so much easier to be a regal swan than a regal pigeon. And then very, very slowly we'll start to take it down only as far as your body is willing to go. So this could be a really nice pigeon. You could take it down a little deeper if that's available to you today.

And I think we'll stay here now for about three minutes. Just releasing into the pose, you don't have to tell you that this could be fairly intense. See if you can find the pose that works for your body and then commit to it, releasing as much muscular tension as possible. And at any time that it feels untenable, then just ease up or come out entirely. But in the meantime, soften those eyes, the jaw, the mouth, taking a breath and exhaling through the lips.

So much of our tension, anxiety lives in these hips. And the more that we release, the more that we allow the muscles to soften and release, the more we give them permission to do that, the more emotions can surface, memories can surface whether they're joyful, whether they're sorrowful, whether they're traumatic, whether they're ours or our ancestors. And it's a wonderful way to understand that we're not our feelings, that we can be present, we can be witness to those feelings and still be okay. See what you got. And at any time, if it gets too much, shift your attention to another part of the body that feels a little more comfortable.

Couple of nice deep breaths now, inhale deeply and sigh it all the way out. And very, very slowly begin to come up, one more time, pressing into the hands and looking up and then curling the back toe under and moving into downward facing dog, just raise that leg high, you can kind of move the hip if that feels good. And dropping that right leg down, go ahead and extend left leg long as we move in to pigeon on the other side. This other side may be an entirely different experience. And in fact, if your hip is saying, uh-uh, this is not happening, it's fine to go onto your back and do thread the needle, which I'll show you really quickly.

Simply this, right? Same energy, easier on the hip. So coming into pigeon or swan, let's be regal, let's feel our connection to the floor, really feel that energy and from the back leg, let's take it down. Only as far as this side is willing to go, inhaling and exhaling as we settle in for three minutes, which is a suggested amount of time, by the way. Notice the whole body right now, notice what she's saying and adjust accordingly if she needs a little more space or a little less intensity.

Releasing the muscular effort and simply receiving the pose. What lives here, what lives in this side, in this hip, in these muscles, what is your relationship to the joys, the sorrows, the traumas, the history that have become part of you? Is there room at the table within you to allow everyone to find space and light, no matter how difficult they've been? Still flowing, even breaths and as the mind goes elsewhere, inhale and invite her back home. Take a nice deep breath in now and sigh it all the way out.

And very, very slowly begin to come up. Feeling the whole body once again, the strength of your connection to the floor and the receptivity and the openness of the upper body. Bring the toe under, ah, release the hip, staying in downward facing dog or three-legged dog, whatever you need to release the leg and the hip, nice. One more nice juicy downward facing dog, take an inhale and exhale hands to knees and sit back on your heels, closing your eyes and receiving the gifts. Think if there's been any shift in your energy, any sensations that seem new or surprising.

And I'll offer you my mantra, which is, isn't that interesting? And release your hands. And now let's roll onto our back and taking your block with you. With your block right next to you, just bring your heels towards your sitting bones, move your shoulders slightly into the mat, inhale, press your hands down and lift up into a bridge. These are going toward the center of the room as you bring your block under the fleshier part of your sacrum, which will allow your clavicles to open a smile a little bit more.

Ah, and rest right here. It's a really lovely inversion, but if you'd like a little bit more, just take one leg and then the other up to the sky. And if it's interesting and play with your legs a little bit, yeah, a little movement in the ankles, take them wide and then commit, pressing up to the sky as you ground down into your block, showing that being grounded allows us to be expansive. Being supported allows us our freedom. And whenever you're ready, take a nice big inhale, exhale one leg down and then the other.

Plant them firmly on the floor, lift up, remove the block and set it aside. Just allow your knees to fall to the side and bring your hands to your belly. For many of us whose knees are a little bit reluctant to get down there, you might want to put a block under your thighs or wherever will work, I'll just reach over here and grab my block, whatever will work to allow your legs to be comfortable and supported, nice. Then settle back in and relax and release the effort and breathe naturally. Be increasing the length and the evenness of your breath.

Now this is a wonderful pose to do as Shavasana. So I invite you to stay here feeling the ground, the support under you, what's the Tadasana of this pose and feeling the openness and the joy in the front body. Alternatively you can use these blocks to put them under your knees as you move into a more traditional Shavasana. Make sure that your heels are touching the ground so you don't feel like you're floating in the air. Bring those arms down, take a nice deep breath in again and sigh it out.

One more time. Take a nice inhale and sigh it all the way out as you receive the support of the earth. Bring the attention to the forehead, softening the forehead, softening the eyes, allowing the eyeballs to really kind of sink back into the head. It's an internal investigation with great affection hopefully. Bringing the attention inside the mouth, release that upper jaw and the lower jaw, moving the mouth around if that feels good.

And then allowing the whole body to move into the earth, feeling supported once again, nurtured and very, very relaxed. Keeping the body now very, very relaxed. Bring your hands to your heart and just breathing in and out of the heart space. Noticing if there's any difference in the texture or the rhythm, the quality of your breath as it engages the heart. In the cave of the heart, which is what the yogis love to call this, lives your true nature, your true essence, which is basic goodness, kindness and joy.

Feel that now and gift yourself that gift of joy, of connection and of ground. And then keeping in mind that we receive the gifts of our practice but we do not own them, cannot keep them just to ourselves. To someone dear to you who may need just a little extra help today and inhale that gift, whatever it is that you have to give and exhale that out to the person in your heart. And once again, inhaling the gift of practice and exhaling that out into the world for the benefit of all sentient beings. Feel free to be here as long as you like, sometimes that feels comfortable, stay right here.

And if you're ready, simply bend one knee and then the other, scooting the blocks to the side, give a nice big stretch from fingertips to toe tips all the way up. And as you release, bend your knees, release those shoulders and arms and roll to the right side as you continue to receive the gifts of your practice today. And very, very slowly press the top arm up as you come to a seated position, allowing the front body to enjoy the same freedom and space as the back body. Your hands to your thighs, keeping your eyes closed. Settle in for two more rounds of breath, easy, gentle, releasing.

On your next inhale, inhale those arms up overhead, touching palms together, exhale hands to heart in gratitude for your joyous, calm and tender heart, namaste.


Shaz D
Thank you. This practice really helped me this morning.
Linda Sparrowe
Oh Sharon, I am SO glad! Thank you for letting me know.
Lara V
Beautiful practice! Such a respite from the world today.
Alexis M
beautiful practise. It really helped me to ground myself. thank you for sharing
So beautiful and helpful practice. Thank you so much
Tee R
1 person likes this.
I really needed this; I have had anxiety lately. I enjoyed the poetic and soothing cues!
Soozi morris
Thankyou Linda needed that today as my granddaughter ( 22 ) has just tested positive for Covid-19 , hopefully mild , will be honest and say got a little weepy , but in a good way .
Susan R
I so enjoy this practice . Thank you
Medea Exogiinos
thank you very much, this helped me today immensely I plan to use this every time I have a tough time centering my mind.

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