Can Yoga Help with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?

Blog Body Movement & Workout Can Yoga Help with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?

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9.20.2020 0 comments

Anxiety is something that all of us live with to varying degrees.

Some of us struggle with the stresses and anxieties of our daily work, while for others, it’s home life that adds pressure.

Anxiety is often compounded from multiple sources, and it grows and grows like steam building up inside a kettle. Without an outlet to let off some of that steam, eventually we’re going to burst.

That’s why anxiety management is so vital!

Meditation and mindfulness exercises are excellent for helping to cope with anxieties, and you’ll find that everything from high intensity exercises to calming breathing techniques can make a world of difference.

But, according to one new study, Yoga might just be one of the best things you can do to help manage your anxiety and promote a healthier mind as well as body!

Yoga’s Effect On Anxiety

The study, published in Aug 2020 [1], examined the effects of Yoga on anxiety. Specifically, it looked at how Kundalini yoga could compare with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for treating Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America characterizes GAD as [2]:

“Persistent and excessive worry about a number of different things.” This includes worries about family, health, money, or any number of issues. Often, those with GAD tend to worry about things outside their ability to control, and they tend to worry about actual events more than is warranted. They have a tendency to expect the worst even in situations where there is no visible cause for worry.

“Difficult to control worry on more days than not for at least six months and has three or more symptoms.” These symptoms include [3]:

  • An unexplained sense of impending panic, doom, or danger

  • Feelings of nervousness, irritability, or feeling on edge

  • Elevated heart rate

  • Rapid breathing (hyperventilation), trembling, and/or sweating

  • Gastrointestinal (GI) upset or problems

  • Fatigue or feelings of weakness

  • Concentration difficulties

  • Sleep troubles

The risk of GAD is highest between childhood and middle age, though it can set in at any time during your life. Factors like family background, life experiences, stress, and even biology can increase your chances of developing GAD.

In the 2020 study, researchers looked at two different methods of controlling and managing GAD: cognitive behavioral therapy and Kundalini yoga.

Kundalini yoga is a combination of physical practices with spiritual practices. Movement and dynamic breathing techniques are combined with the chanting of mantras and meditation exercises, with the goal of strengthening both mind and body. According to the data, it could actually be useful for helping to manage not just anxiety, but possibly even a clinical disorder like GAD.

The study put 226 adult participants diagnosed with GAD through a randomized clinical trial. All of the adults were divided into three groups:

  • Control group, which included stress education

  • Kundalini yoga group

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy group

For 12 weeks, the adults underwent weekly two-hour sessions of either yoga or CBT. Before and after the study, the participants’ anxiety levels were measured and compared across the three groups to determine which saw better results.

All three groups saw visible improvement in their anxiety levels:

  • The control group that underwent only stress education had an average of 33.3% improvement.

  • The Kundalini yoga group had an average of 54.2% improvement.

  • The cognitive behavioral therapy group had an average of 70.8% improvement.

As the data makes clear, cognitive behavioral therapy is still the most effective treatment for GAD and other mental health conditions. CBT should always be considered the frontline option for medical professionals who are trying to help patients control anxiety.

However, you’ll see that the difference between the remaining two groups are pretty drastic. The Yoga group saw an improvement of more than 20% higher than the control group. This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Yoga makes for an effective anxiety treatment. Perhaps not the most effective—that distinction belongs to CBT—but still useful enough that it’s very much worth considering to help you manage your anxiety.

Using Yoga to Manage Anxiety

The beauty of Yoga is that it works the body and engages the mind throughout the entire practice. While you flow through the various poses and movements, you are focusing on your breathing, your balance, and on counting the seconds in each position. This has a soothing, almost self-hypnotic effect that can do wonders to take your mind off of your stresses and anxieties.

You’ll find that during your time in the Yoga studio—with the relaxing music, the soothing aromatherapy smells typically utilized, and the constant movement and breathing—your mind will relax as your body works. Certain practices, such as Kundalini, that utilize spiritual and meditative techniques during the Yoga workout will do wonders to help you manage your anxiety.

The best part is: you don’t have to do it every day to obtain the benefits!

The study mentioned above involved just ONE weekly 2-hour Yoga session, but the improvements were visible across the 12-week study. Even just mixing one or two Yoga sessions into your week can be enough to help calm your mind, banish your anxieties, and give you greater control over your thoughts.

Of course, there’s no reason you can’t do Yoga every day if that’s what you want. Whatever you find that helps to calm your mind and keep the anxiety at bay is worth doing!

Lastly, make sure to check out all yoga resources on zonia video streaming platform for health and wellness to find the best match for you.






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