How yoga can help overcome social anxiety

My dear yogis, I have some great news – among the many benefits of yoga there is – yoga is also helping you feel less socially awkward! Sounds too good to be true? Stay with me and I’ll explain why. 

Do you feel like you are a fully functioning human being only when you are alone? When somebody tries to make plans with you, do you choose from your index of 7,432 reasons why you are not available? Well, while most people crave social interaction and putting themselves out there, others dread crossing paths with another human being.

If you suffer from anxiety or stress related disorders and you are just starting out with an exercise program, it is important to consult with your doctor to determine the best form of exercise and intensity level for your physical condition. Although yoga is no substitute for traditional treatments and medication, it may offer some benefit both to your physical and psychological wellbeing.

A study performed in 2014 found that exercise and relaxation activities literally change the way people perceive the world — for people with mood and anxiety disorders especially, this potentially means viewing your surroundings as less threatening. When anxious, you perhaps tend to focus on avoiding the things that trigger your anxiety, and ironically you could end up making your anxiety worse. This study suggests that yoga can actually help to break this cycle*.

Yoga can have a positive impact on an individual’s psychological wellbeing as it helps relieve anxiety and improves self-esteem. In general, yoga is a low-risk method for healing the body and mind while increasing energy levels and wellbeing. These effects have been found both when yoga is performed over a long period of time and also after just one class.

Are you ready to give it a try? Start with a 30-minute yoga session twice a week (yes of course you can do it in the comfort of your home, if you don’t feel like mixing with people yet, or a studio class is not your thing). This could be enough to see your mood lifted and start to boost your self-confidence. You should hopefully notice that your routine social interactions become easier and that your stress level in general may decrease. And you know what? Yoga is a very non-judgmental practice. One day – not too far ahead – you may feel ready for practicing in a group with other people, and you might feel more comfortable than you ever thought you could be. Namaste ☺

* Queen’s University. “Exercise, relaxation activities positively impact people with social anxiety disorders.” ScienceDaily, 17 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140717124957.htm>

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