Manage Exam-Anxiety With Simple Yoga Practices

Samrat PashamYoga For Anxiety6 Comments

Manage Exam Anxiety With Yoga

March is a month when the levels of mercury begin to soar.

Our students will also begin to feel the heat of their impending final examinations. Activities that only parents and teachers seemed interested in all year, begin to find favour among the students too. Yes, this is the season of revisions, group-studies and mock-tests. It is also a time when children are left with very little time to play.

Understandably, exam-anxiety will begin to rise.

Yogic practices are an effective way to deal with this exam-anxiety. Yoga asanas take advantage of the body-breath-mind connection to cleverly short circuit unhealthy mental patterns.

Today, we will share a few simple yoga poses with you. These yoga asanas can be practiced in under 20 minutes by almost all levels. However, the effects, we promise you, will be nothing short of amazing.

The practitioner will feel energized, more focused and calmer. Sounds like a great place to be in right!

Before we get started, some important points to remember:

  • All the poses are meant to be done with a focus on the breath.
  • Work on making the breath deep and long with equal inhalations and exhalations.
  • Never force any pose, we are trying to reduce anxiety not create more.
  • Whenever a pose is not accessible, choose an easier version or a modification.
  • Try and find a quiet distraction free space to work in.
  • Make sure you have not eaten 2-3 hours prior to starting.
  • Remember that sufficient sleep and hydration are critical to your ability to deal with stress.
  • We also recommend you practice with a gentle smile.

Please note that the poses are not intended to be a replacement for any clinical treatments or conditions for anxiety. Always get clearance from your doctor before starting any exercise regimen.

Special thanks to  Siddhi ,  Srikar and  Siri for being so enthusiastic and demonstrating the poses for us 🙂

I sincerely hope that you are able to use these practices to become calmer and more focused and do really well in your exams. If you find these techniques helpful – Share them with your friends.

 1) Easy-Pose/Lotus-Pose
Easy Pose (Sukhasana ) - Yoga To Manage Exam-Anxiety

Srikar demonstrates Sukhasana, while Siddhi and Siri show us how to do Padmasana

(Sukhasana) Easy-Pose With Belly Breathing to help you center yourself and draw the focus inwards.

Sit on the floor with your legs crossed as demonstrated by the boy pictured above, draw the center of your head towards the ceiling.

Work on lengthening the spine and keeping it erect. You may choose to close your eyes or gaze softly at a point in front of you.

Draw your attention to your breath and observe it for a moment. When you are ready, begin equalizing the length of your inhalation and exhalation. When you are able to achieve this consistently – move on to actively using the abdomen to breathe. Become aware that as you inhale the abdomen rises and when you exhale the abdomen falls.

We recommend that you practice this for at least 2 minutes.

Caution: Lotus-pose/ Padmasana as demonstrated by the two girls in the picture is an advanced pose. It may not be possible to for everyone to get into it right away. If this is the case with you. Relax – do not force yourself into it. Choose Easy Pose/Sukhasana instead.

2) Cow-Cat Flow
Cow Pose (Bitilasana) for Yoga For Managing Exam-Anxiety

(Bitilasana) Cow Pose

Marjaryasana (Cat Pose) - Yoga To Manage Exam-Anxiety

(Marjaryasana) Cat Pose

(Bitilasana) Cow Pose and Marjaryasana (Cat Pose) performed together in a gentle, flowing sequence for the Cow-Cat flow serves to release tension in the spine.

Begin with your hands and knees on the floor. Position your hips over your knees. Bring the wrists, elbows and shoulders in one line. Keep your back straight and your spine in a neutral position. Gaze at a point on the floor.

As you inhale – Move into Cow Pose. Depress your spine while you raise your sit bones up and press your chest forward. Allow your stomach to sink towards the floor. Lift your head, relax the shoulders, and look up.

Exhale – Into Cat Pose. Raise the spine upwards while you engage the core. Tuck your tailbone and draw the hips forward. Gently drop your head toward the floor.

Caution: If you have a neck injury, keep your head in line with your torso throughout Cat-Cow.

Continue the Cow-Cat flow with each inhale and exhale. We recommend that you practice this for up to 2 minutes with slow even deep breaths.

3) Childs Pose
(Balasana) Child's Pose - Yoga To Manage Exam-Anxiety

(Balasana) Child’s Pose

(Balasana) Child’s Pose is a passive restorative pose that helps directly relieve stress and fatigue. 

This one needs very little instruction and comes quite naturally to most children. Begin by sitting on your knees with a straight spine. With an exhalation fold forward and move into the child’s pose. The arm may be outstretched or by the side of your body. Continue taking deep equal breaths. Work on consciously relaxing the body with each successive exhalation.

We recommend that you practice this posture for as much as 2 minutes.

Caution: Take care to protect the knees, forehead and ribs while practicing Balasana.

4) Downward Dog Pose
(Adhomukhasvanasana ) Downward Dog Pose - Yoga To Manage Exam-Anxiety

(Adhomukhasvanasana) Downward Dog Pose

(Adhomukhasvanasana) Downward Dog Pose is an active restorative pose that is also a mild inversion. It improves blood flow to the brain while reducing stress.

Begin with your hands and knees on the floor with the eyes gazing at a point in front of you.

Spread your fingers and press down with the palms. Engaging the wrists, shoulders and core and lift your knees off the floor. Begin to move the sit bones towards the ceiling and straighten the back of the legs while attempting to drop your heels to the floor. We are trying to form the shape of an ‘A’.  Once you are comfortable in the downward dog pose, begin to work with the spine. Lengthening it with each breath.

We recommend staying in this pose and working with your breath for up to 1 minute.

Caution: Do not practice if you have any wrist or elbow injuries or if you experience headaches. Also do not attempt to force the heels down.

5) Standing Forward Bend
(Uttansana) Standing Forward Bend - Yoga To Manage Exam-Anxiety

(Uttansana) Standing Forward Bend

(Uttanasana) Standing Forward Bend Pose is a forward fold that works as a kind of inversion. It can soothe the nerves and bring relief from stress.

Start from a standing position and raise your arms over the head. Keeping the spine straight, slowly fold forward with your next exhalation. Remember to fold from the hip and not along the mid-back. Work on sucking the abdomen in and elongating the spine. Breathe calm equal breaths.

Caution: Many new practitioners may find it difficult to achieve a forward fold without rounding the mid-back. In such a case, a good modification to try is bend your knees as demonstrated.

We recommend devoting up to 1 minute to this practice.

6) Warrior Poses (1 & 2)
(Virabhadrasana 1) Warrior Pose 1 - Yoga To Manage Exam-Anxiety

(Virabhadrasana 1) Warrior Pose 1

(Virabhadrasana 2 ) Warrior 2 - Yoga To Manage Exam-Anxiety

(Virabhadrasana 2 ) Warrior 2

(Virabhadrasana 1 & 2) Warrior Poses are much revered yoga poses that can energize the body, improve circulation and raise feeling of confidence. 

Warrior 1 – Start by standing with your feet apart and your feet facing forward. Turn the right leg by 90 degrees and attempt to face in the direction of the right foot is facing by squaring the hips. Raise your arms over your head and if you are able – join the palms over the head into a namaskara. Keeping the left leg straight, sink down into the hips and bend the right knee until it forms a right angle. Take calm equal breath breaths for one 1 minute and mirror the pose on the left side.

Warrior 2 – Start by standing with your feet apart and your feet facing forward. Turn the right leg by 90 degrees and raise your arms to shoulder level. Continue looking at a point in front of you. Keeping the left leg straight, sink down into the hips and bend the right knee until it forms a right angle. Turn the head to look at the right middle finger. Remember we do not square the hips in this pose.  Take calm equal breath breaths for one 1 minute and mirror the pose on the left side.

Caution: Generally safe but avoid if you have any recent injuries on the knees, hips, back or shoulders. There is a tendency to lean forward in these poses, try and work on correcting that by keeping the spine straight and leaning back into the center.

Total practice time is 4 minutes.

6) Tree Pose
(Vrikshasana) Tree Pose - Yoga To Manage Exam-Anxiety

(Vrikshasana) Tree Pose

(Vrikshasana) Tree Pose is a balance pose that draws the practitioners awareness keenly to the body and breath. It has a rejuvenating effect and helps with concentration.

Stand tall with straight arms. Bend your knee and place the right foot high up on the left thigh. Remember to keep the foot flat at the base of the thigh. Keeping the left leg straight find your balance. gaze at a fixed point in front of you and work on calming the breath down. Either keep the palms in namaskara by the heart center or raise them slowly over the head. Mirror the pose on the left side.

Caution: Try not to place the foot on the knee and do not practice if you have recent knee, ankle or foot injuries.

We recommend practicing this for 1 minute on each side.

7) Seated Forward Fold Pose
(Paschimottanasana) Seated Forward Bend - Yoga To Manage Exam-Anxiety

(Paschimottanasana) Seated Forward Bend

(Paschimottanasana) Seated Forward Bend Pose is an active total back stretch that has an intense soothing and calming effect.

Sit with your legs stretched out together in front of you. Keep your  head neck and spine erect. Keep your palms on your knees. With your next exhalation bend forward from the hip and try to touch your toes with your fingers. Continue taking calm breaths and with every exhalation try and elongate the spine and relax into the pose.

Cautions: Just like the standing forward bend try and move the focus to bending from the hip rather than the mid-back. Do not practice this if you have recent injuries in hip or along the back.

We recommend spending up to a 1 minute with this practice.

7) Revolved Head To Knee Pose
(Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana) Revolved Head To Knee Pose - Yoga To Manage Exam Anxiety

(Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana) Revolved Head To Knee Pose

(Parivrtta Janusirsasana) Revolved Head To Knee Pose is a seated stretch and twist that massages the abdominal organs and serves to calm and soothe the nerves.

Sit straight with you legs wide apart. Bend the right knee and place the right foot at the base of the left thigh. With your next exhalation, keeping the left leg straight,  lean towards the left until your left finger touch the toes of the left foot. Slowly raise the right hand over your head and continue over to the left side giving yourself a gentle twist.

Caution: The final pose is an intense stretch and a twist, however we recommend that for our purposes of helping with stress and exam-anxiety you perform the pose as modified and shown in the picture above.

We recommend that you practice this for 1 minute on each side.

8) Legs Up The Wall Pose
(Viparita Karani) Legs Up The Wall Pose - Yoga To Manage Exam-Anxiety

(Viparita Karani) Legs Up The Wall Pose

(Viparita Karani) Legs Up The Wall Pose is perhaps the most grounding and calming poses out there. It is also one of the easiest to perform.

This pose is really simple. Lie on your back with your sit-bones as close to the wall as possible. Extend your legs up the wall and allow the back of your legs rest against the wall. Let your arms lie on the floor with the palms facing up. Continue deep calm breathing.

We recommend closing with this pose. Practice for upto 3 minutes atleast.

 

Samrat Pasham

Samrat Pasham is a Hyderabad based Yoga Alliance 200 Registered Yoga Teacher. He is a self-confessed inversion-addict and can often be seen spending time upside down. Samrat believes that Yoga is for everybody and every-body. He is keenly interested in mindfulness, nutrition, holistic health and movement.

6 Comments on “Manage Exam-Anxiety With Simple Yoga Practices”

  1. Smita

    Fantastic blog post… I am going to try this with my son, even though he has no exam anxiety. 😉

    Love the detailed explanation!

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