Mental health is more predominantly approaching the forefront of the public sphere, however, there is still a certain level of macho taboo surrounding the idea of mental health problems in men. The concept that men can experience anxiety or depression appears to contradict the masculine image for which many men aspire to be. However, these feelings are still very much prominent in men, especially those that live in the busy hustle and bustle of the capitalist world, where the pressure to perform increases with the possibilities that are invented.
Thinking of this, it is important to quieten the mind and find peace in yourself, to try and prevent the onset of anxiety. The constant worry that constricts us can be combatted with a few easy, relaxing yoga moves which help to soothe the mind while toning the body, bringing back the balance we need to prevent us feeling off-kilter in such as demanding world.
It has long been recognized in the yoga world, that inversions or upside positions are very good for helping to prevent and alleviate anxiety. When the body is inverted, the blood flow, lymphatic drainage, and flow of cerebral spinal fluid are altered. In terms of blood flow, by bringing more blood to the brain, it increases the oxygen and glucose in the brain, which helps to stimulate neurotransmitters. This assists with alleviating anxiety as it allows the brain to function more effectively, finding solutions by connecting different parts of the brain more efficiently. Inversions send messages to the brain that lower pulse rate and resting blood pressure, which also helps to calm you down. Why not try some of these easy inversions to help stem anxiety.
For those familiar with yoga, Dolphin Pose is akin to Downward Dog, but using your forearms instead of your palms. For those not familiar, start on all fours. Place your forearms flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart, facing forward. Now straighten the back legs as much as possible. With practice the legs will become straighter and the heels will touch the floor. Try to actively lift your hips to the sky and your heels to the floor, to create a stretch in the legs and increase blood flow.
Supported Shoulder Stand
Lay flat on the floor, with your knees bent and feet flat. Place your hands at the bottom of your back. Now swing your legs upward, and sweep your hands under the bottom of your back, to support yourself. The weight should be balanced on your shoulders, with your legs straight in the air. Try to pull up from the abdomen so that the weight does not rest solely on the neck.
If you are not flexible enough for the above positions, or you’re struggling to catch your breath, a forward fold will do the same trick. Bend from the waist, and let your head and arms drop in front of you. Make sure that your knees are soft (not locked). Try folding your hands as if cradling a baby and rock from side to side. This will help to stretch the hamstrings and increase blood flow.
If you are not confident with the more difficult poses, a forward fold will create the same effect of helping gravity to assist with blood flow to the brain. Make sure to breathe deeply to increase the oxygen levels and to breathe out your worries.