How Yoga Can Help Your Social Anxiety
Unless you’re a raging extrovert, it’s likely you’ve experienced social anxiety. It’s almost a fact of life that we all tend to experience it at some point or another. But when it’s a daily or near-daily thing for you, you may have true social anxiety. Yoga is great for those who experience social anxiety. In fact, studies have shown that yoga can help relieve anxiety! So let’s explore how this happens.
What is social anxiety?
Anxiety in social settings can range from being “painfully shy” to a true social anxiety disorder. Social anxiety often stems from being afraid others are judging you negatively in public settings or worrying about what others think about you. If it’s to the point where it’s affecting your day-to-day life, it may be time to speak with a mental health professional.
Choose beginner classes
If you’re new to yoga and have social anxiety, try a beginner’s class where everyone else is just starting out too. In a class for beginners, you can rest assured that people will be worrying about getting their own poses correct (since those irrational nagging thoughts keep telling you people are judging your stance and how well you can hold poses!). Check out our blog on some of the most popular types of yoga… Choose the one that speaks to you!
This is where choosing a studio you vibe with is extremely important. If you’re coming to classes regularly, you’ll hopefully start to make acquaintances (which may turn into friends!). BUT — and this is the best part for those with social anxiety — there’s no expectation to make acquaintances or friends. You’re in a no-pressure situation. You are fully within your rights to go in, take the class, and leave. If you end up making small talk with the person next to you, yay! If not, no big deal, and no one will fault you for it. So yeah, low pressure all around! And I’m not saying we yogis are the absolute best bunch to hang out with — but yeah, I’m saying it!
…or go it alone
For those going through severe social anxiety, yoga is great in that you don’t NEED to take it in class form. Tons of YouTube videos and yoga apps exist where you can learn the poses and proper form so that you can do your own yoga flow on your own time and in your own space.
Use visualizations during yoga to help your social anxiety
As you’re doing these yoga poses for social anxiety, visualize yourself opening up. Visualize yourself feeling confident and self-assured. Visualize yourself going up to people and talking (if this sits well with you). And visualize yourself having the ability to not place too much importance on what people think of you. Yoga also helps in that you’re unplugging and staying away from the anxiety that social media can induce!
Control your breathing during yoga to help with social anxiety
For those with anxiety (and especially anxiety that comes along with panic attacks), breath control is a tremendously helpful tool to have, especially in the middle of an attack or acute anxiety.
Yoga poses for social anxiety
Any yoga practice, while following the above tips, can help with social anxiety. However, here are a few poses that may help with social anxiety in different ways:
- Child’s pose: This is a good pose for relaxation and calming the mind when anxiety levels are high. Breathe easy and focus on the present moment in this intensely grounding pose.
- Standing forward bend: After a long day exposed to the elements (other people!), standing forward bend helps you release tension in your back, neck, and shoulders. Those of us with anxiety tend to physically manifest it through tensing muscles in difficult situations.
- Warrior pose: End with this pose. Now that you’ve grounded yourself and released some tension, set the intention that you’ll now work on opening yourself to new experiences. As you open up your stance and chest in warrior pose, picture yourself as a fierce warrior ready to face whatever the world throws at you.
Try yoga for social anxiety today!
Grab our Good Vibes yoga towel for a reminder of why you’re doing yoga in the first place!