Asana & Sequences: Yoga & Anxiety – Practices to Consider

Clinical work convinced me that the body holds an essential key to healing anxiety and depression. – Bo Forbes PsyD

Potential Benefits

  • Poses that are practiced with a focus on connecting with the breath may help to reduce symptoms.


  • Bo Forbes and other yoga therapists have found restorative yoga to be particularly useful for supporting mental health. However, please note that “some techniques… including meditation and restorative yoga, might not work well for people with anxiety because it may be difficult for them to be still or alone with their thoughts.  In such cases, it may be helpful to begin with a more active practice, and then transition to more restorative poses.” (Nina Zolotow)

Teaching Tools

Some considerations to ease symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Standing Side Stretch – Keep both feet firmly planted while stretching to one side.  Hold on each side for several breaths, expanding the rib cage with each breath.
  • Supine Twist – Keep the chest facing the sky while lowering knees to one side. Relax into the twist. Let the abdomen expand with the inhale; soften resistance with the exhale. Stay for several breaths on each side. (Rolf Sovik, Yoga Journal, Beat Anxiety with Breathwork)
  • Makarasana (Crocodile Pose) – Place a bolster under the rib cage and a block under the forehead. Let the legs and arms relax completely. Soften the abdomen; allow it to expand against the floor with the inhale and contract with the exhale. Practice for 6-8 minutes.
  • Savasana + Sandback Breathing – Lie in Savasana with a sandbag on the mid-abdomen. Inhale slowly against the sandbag’s weight. With the exhale, the weight will help contract the abdomen. Slow the breathing. After a few minutes, remove the sandbag and ask the student to notice how she feels.