How To Use Yoga For Panic Attack Relief [TUTORIAL]
How To Use Yoga For Panic Attack Relief [TUTORIAL]
woman practicing yoga at home to relieve panic attacks

I used to suffer from panic attacks. Yoga poses were one of the main things that led me to recovery. In this guide I will show you how. 

I would be going about my day to day life. Everything would be fine. Then out of nowhere a terrible thought would enter my mind. I would think something horrible, usually related to me health. If I felt a bump it was cancer. If I felt a slight headache it was a psychological disorder. Everything was awful. But of course it was only in my mind. It was only because of negative thoughts [READ: How To Overcome Negative Thoughts]

As soon as I experienced a negative thought I’d get all sorts of physiological reactions. You know, the usual physical symptoms of panic attacks like sweating, feeling hot, and a racing heart. I’d panic that something was terribly wrong. And I’d lose control of myself. I would panic. 

I’d lost touch with my meditation and asanas. I was lost in a see of stress. [READ: Best meditations for stress]

I needed to take back my self control. And so I forced myself onto my mat. And even though at first I could only do 10 minutes at a time because every time I tried I would think things like “I’m not good enough” or I’d worry about what work I had to do, I kept going back onto my mat. 

The more you practice yoga the more self control you gain. There are big benefits of yoga for panic attacks, says science. And I could feel those benefits the more I practiced. 

I also practiced meditation. A lot. I used these specific panic-attack-meditation techniques.

By using meditation and yoga for panic attack relief I started to be more in control of both my body and my mind. And day by day I regained my power, and I reduced the symptoms of panic attacks. 

I was intrigued to see just how exactly yoga helps panic attacks. So I researched.

The Science of Yoga For Panic Attacks

  VeryWellMind [1] says that yoga is a n activity that helps with “all three of the common relaxation techniques [breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualization]” and has been shown to “ease stress, reduce feelings of nervousness, and enhance mindfulness.”

That’s why yoga helps panic attacks. And of the more than 28 different styles of yoga, the majority do benefit panic attack sufferers.

For me personally, the first benefit of yoga for panic attack relief was the sense of freedom. I enjoyed using the opening yoga poses that get you to stretch out far and open your body (more on this below). These help with one of the common symptoms of panic attacks: muscle tension.

 There’s also the fact that yoga helps to slow the mind. By practicing pranayama breathing techniques we slow the mind down. Meditations can help too. They relax the mind and make us less reactive to thoughts and feelings (and after all, panic attacks are usually the result of an overreaction to those very things).

If you practice yoga at a class you also get the support of other yogis. They can offer emotional support and friendship, which are huge when you suffer from anxiety.

Yes, there are huge benefits of yoga for panic attacks. But there is also a right way to practice yoga to reduce panic attacks. Let’s take a look.

 

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How To Use Yoga For Panic Attack Relief

1: Create a relaxing space 

This one is actually a log bigger than you might think. Make sure you create a relaxing yoga space to practice in [READ: How To Create A Yoga Room At Home]

Many people who suffer from anxiety and panic attacks do not feel confident enough to practice in a group at the yoga studio. That’s fine. On one condition: Practice in a relaxing space. 

When you’re using yoga for panic attack relief you’re specifically doing it to relax your mind. You’re not really doing it for the physical exercise. Yes that’s a bonus. But it’s really about relaxing and taking control of anxiety. The best place to do that is in a relaxing space where you will not be disturbed, and, crucially, where you will not be exposed to any of the triggers of your panic attack syndrome. 

 

2. Asanas (yoga poses) for panic attack

Asanas are the specific body positions in yoga. For instance, the most well-known positions are “Downward Dog” and “Cat Pose”.

Science shows that different asanas have different benefits because they activate different parts of the body. [5]

The best yoga poses for panic attacks are:

  • Legs up wall pose
  • Headstand
  • Warrior III
  • Tree Pose
  • Child’s Pose
  • Bridge Pose
  • Cat Pose
  • Cow Pose

(be aware of the risks of Bikram yoga, if that is the type of yoga you choose to do)

3. Pranayama yoga for anxiety

Pranayama is the yogic term for controlling the breath.

In yoga we use the breath to help move prana (energy) around the body.

Try this beginner’s pranayama yoga exercise for panic attacks:

  1. Sit comfortably with good posture
  2. Breathe in and focus on creating a smooth and flowing breath
  3. Meditate on the feeling of your breath moving between your lips and nose.
  4. Pause slightly between inhalation and exhalation. Notice the stillness here.
  5. Breathe out smoothly, meditating on the flow of breath.

This is a simple pranayama exercise that calms the mind. It’s one of the best exercises for panic attacks.

You can also use the prana mudra for panic attacks.

4. Yoga meditation for panic attacks (Meditation technique for intermediates)

Yoga Nidra is the state of conscious that lies halfway between waking and sleeping. In this state we are completely relaxed and much more mindful of our inward state.

The science (above) shows that yoga nidra relieves the symptoms of panic attacks.

Here’s how to use this type of yoga for panic attacks:

  1. Lie down straight in Shavasana (Corpse Pose).
  2. Close your eyes and relax.
  3. Take a few mindful breaths.
  4. Bring your awareness to you right foot. Relax your foot.
  5. Move on to your right knee, ankle, thigh and then hip. Relax these parts.
  6. Be aware of your entire right leg. Relax.
  7. Repeat with your left leg.
  8. Continue in this fashion across your pelvis, stomach, navel, chest, right arm, right hand, left arm, left hand, neck, throat, and head.
  9. Breathe mindfully for 10 breaths.
  10. Be aware of your entire body. Relax.
  11. Be aware of your surroundings. Relax.
  12. Sit up slowly and gently.

 

5. Pratyahara And Aparigraha 

These are two of the yoga techniques that are used to gain control of your mind. The first, Pratyahara, is about sensory withdrawal (though you should only do this in a gentle way). The second, Aparigraha, is about minimalism and not being attached to things. 

Read my guide to these here:

 

These are the three best ways to use yoga for panic attacks. They worked for me. Yoga gave me a sense of freedom. And it taught me to control my mind and take control of panic attacks.I hope it works for you too. 

 I am not a healthcare professional so seek medical advice before starting.

Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a meditation teacher, author and journalist based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential.

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