Yoga Is Powerful Medicine for Anxiety

In Featured Article, Fitness and Exercise, General Health, Mental Health by Garry Messick0 Comments

If you tell your doctor that you’re suffering from anxiety, there’s a good chance you’ll walk out with a prescription for a benzodiazepine.

These are drugs such as Xanax (alprazolam), Valium (diazepam), and Ativan (lorazepam). They are highly addictive.

Unlike prescription opioids, addiction issues with benzos, as they are commonly called, get little attention.

Doctors are prescribing fewer opioids. Their use has fallen since 2012. But physicians continue to offer more benzos to their patients every year. One study calls it the “hidden epidemic” because nobody is paying attention to it.[i]

Some drug counsels say benzos are more difficult to quit than heroin.[ii]

On top of that, experts say benzos are barely effective against anxiety, if at all, for most people.

New research shows that instead of pushing dangerous tranquilizers, doctors should recommend a better, safer solution.

The study comes from NYU Grossman School of Medicine. Researchers randomly assigned 226 people with generalized anxiety disorder to one of three activities: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), stress management classes, or yoga.[iii]

Three months later, 54% of the yoga group had less anxiety. CBT was similarly effective. A third of those in stress management classes had improvements.

Generalized anxiety disorder happens when you feel so stressed that it interferes with your ability to function normally. Some 6.8 million Americans suffer from it, although health professionals say that number has been pushed higher by the coronavirus pandemic.

In the first month after COVID-19 began spreading in the U.S., prescriptions for benzos, antidepressants, and insomnia meds spiked by 21%.[iv]

Dr. Naomi M. Simon led the yoga study. She said the findings “demonstrate that yoga, which is safe and widely available, can improve symptoms for some people with this disorder and could be a valuable tool in an overall treatment plan.”[v]

3 Yoga Poses to Ease Anxiety

  1. Cat Pose. Get on your hands and knees. Make sure your arms are straight and at a right angle to the floor. Your knees should be directly below your hips.
    Concentrate on your breathing. When you exhale, curve your back toward the ceiling. Allow your head to tilt toward the floor, but not so much that your chin touches your chest.


As you inhale, bring your back down to a straight position. Continue to alternate the positions with each breath. Repeat 10 to 12 times.

  • Cow Pose. Begin on your hands and knees. Your knees should be directly below your hips. Wrists, elbows and shoulders should be aligned and perpendicular to the floor. Keep your head aligned to your body and stare at the floor. This is called the “tabletop” position.

Move your chest forward slightly and relax your belly as you inhale. You should end up with your back arched as in the photo below. Lift your head and look straight forward.

Go back to the tabletop position as you exhale. Repeat 10 to 20 times.

This exercise is often done in combination with the Cat Pose. You alternate between the “back arched” and “back raised toward the ceiling” poses several times.

  • Happy Baby Pose. Lie on your back. As you exhale, bring your knees to your stomach.

    Inhale, and grip the sides of your feet with your hands. (If you can’t reach, drape a belt over the soles of your feet and hold the ends.) Open your knees a bit wider than your torso.

Make sure your shins are perpendicular to the floor. Gently push your feet up while pulling them down with your hands or the belt. You should create a moderate level of resistance. Hold the position for several minutes.

Yoga is an effective way to bring calm back into your life safely and naturally.

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[i]https://komonews.com/news/local/hidden-epidemic-a-daily-drug-overlooked-amid-opioid-crisis

[ii] https://www.healthline.com/health/addiction-drug-problem-benzos#1

[iii]https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/article-abstract/2769486

[iv] https://www.express-scripts.com/corporate/americas-state-of-mind-report?mod=article_inline

[v]https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-08-yoga-shown-anxiety.html

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