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Can kundalini yoga treat anxiety?

Many forms of yoga have been shown to help people experiencing anxiety. As an anxiety sufferer myself, I’ve tried almost all of them! In this article, we spotlight kundalini yoga, exploring how it may help you cultivate a calm mind and balanced body.

What is kundalini yoga?

Kundalini yoga is quite different to most ‘conventional’ practices, because it doesn’t just move through a series of poses. Instead, it weaves in meditation, mantra, and breathwork, as well as chanting.

In a kindalini class, these different aspects are paired with ‘kriyas’, the physical exercises that help energise your body and relieve stress and pressure.

Kirtan kriya for a calm mind

A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that practising the kirtan kriya each day for 8 weeks greatly improved participants’ mood, tension, anxiety and depression. 

The study abstract explains, “Yogic breathing is a unique method for balancing the autonomic nervous system and influencing psychologic and stress-related disorders.”

“Although more clinical studies are needed to document the benefits of programs that combine pranayama (yogic breathing) asanas (yoga postures), and meditation, there is sufficient evidence to consider Sudarshan Kriya Yoga to be a beneficial, low-risk, low-cost adjunct to the treatment of stress, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, stress-related medical illnesses, substance abuse, and rehabilitation of criminal offenders.

It continues: “SKY has been used as a public health intervention to alleviate PTSD in survivors of mass disasters. Yoga techniques enhance wellbeing, mood, attention, mental focus, and stress tolerance. Proper training by a skilled teacher and a 30-minute practice every day will maximise the benefits. Health care providers play a crucial role in encouraging patients to maintain their yoga practices.”

How to practise kundalini yoga for anxiety

The best part is you can practise kundalini yoga at home, which is welcomed news if you experience social anxiety.

Here’s how:
  • Sit in a quiet, comfortable space where you won’t be disturbed.
  • Close your eyes, and place your hands on your knees with the palms up.
  • Focus on the spot between your eyebrows
  • Touch your thumbs and index fingers together and chant “sa”.
  • Touch your thumbs and your ring fingers together and chant “ta”.
  • Touch your thumbs and your middle fingers together and chant “na”.
  • Touch your thumbs and your pinky fingers together and chant “ma”.
  • While you do this, picture the sound passing through the top of your head, and leaving between your eyebrows.
Continue the chant for two minutes. Then repeat the chanting, but this time whisper “sa, ta, na, ma” for two minutes. Lastly, repeat the chanting, but this time repeating “sa, ta, na, ma” silently to yourself for four minutes. Then return to whispering for two minutes, and chanting out loud for two minutes.

The practice totals 12 minutes, but you can do it for longer. When you finish the practice, inhale, raise y our arms above your head, and spread out your fingers. Then exhale and sweep your arms down.

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