Americans are no stranger to anxiety. In fact, roughly 18% of the nation’s population are suffering from anxiety disorders; thus, making it the most common form of mental illness in the country.

Anxiety can range in severity from sleepless nights to full-blown panic attacks.

Anxiety can be treated medically with therapy and drugs. But as our knowledge of the downside of drugs increases, more and more patients are in search of alternative forms of treatment. If you are one of them, I’m here to tell you that yoga can be an effective way to help manage your symptoms.

Yoga can be a lifeline for those who are suffering from anxiety, as it was for me. In fact, an increasing number of health practitioners, including psychologists, recommend yoga to their patients. Keep in mind, though, that yoga should not be considered as the only treatment option. Rather, it should be done in conjunction with other forms of treatment such as cognitive behavioral therapy.


Yoga improves your mood and makes you happier

Just like other forms of exercise, yoga has an undeniable effect on your mood – stress relief and anxiety reduction among them. This is because yoga triggers the release of endorphins.

Endorphins are also referred to as natural painkillers because they activate receptors in the brain that minimize pain. They also bring out feelings of euphoria and a boost in energy levels. This is what keeps many devoted yogis coming back for more.


Yoga forces you to focus on your breathing

People who are anxious tend to breathe rapidly and shallowly. The good news is that changing your breathing rate and pattern can help calm and clear your mind.

Yoga forces you to focus on your breathing. This helps get your breathing back on track. Plus, it helps free your mind of worrying thoughts that breed anxiety. Many yoga devotees will tell you that a session of yoga will leave you with a relaxed mind and give you a sense of calm and peace.

Try this right now: Sit up nice and tall with your feet flat on the ground and place your right hand on your belly. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath in through your nose and feel your belly expand with your inhale. Exhale through your nose and feel your belly fall with your exhale. Continue for 10 more breaths, feeling your belly rise and fall with each breath. How do you feel? Could this help when your anxiety is spiked?

Next time you feel stressed or anxious, bring out your yoga mat, move a little bit and breathe deeply. Your mood and anxiety will immediately improve.