A recent study reported that 73% of working Canadians aged 20 to 64 feel anxious or stressed on a daily basis, making anxiety the most common mental illness in the country. Here, HOLR chats with Osteopath Dr. Liza and gets tips on ways to ease anxiety through yoga.
DR. Liza Egbogah is one of North America’s leading body and posture experts, a manual osteopath, myofascial release therapist and the clinic director of the fix, downtown Toronto’s boutique osteopathy, chiropractic and massage clinic. She has a Doctor of Chiropractic, graduating with Summa Cum Laude and clinic honors from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, a diploma in manual osteopathic practice and also holds a Pharmacology degree with distinction from the University of Alberta. Dr. Liza is a manual therapy expert, myofascial release provider, media contributor, certified personal trainer and a member of Harvard’s post graduate association.
Here are some of the things we’ve learned through Dr. Liza:
One method that has been proven to combat anxiety is exercise, which should come as no surprise to anyone who has experienced a euphoric feeling following a great workout. Yoga in particular has been shown to have unique benefits for those suffering from anxiety.
The following moves strengthen and tone, while combatting anxiety through encouraging deep breathing, enhancing focus and calming racing thoughts.
Holding complex yoga poses requires significant focus, which can draw the mind away from anxious thoughts. Your mind has to slow down, allowing you to stay in the moment and relax before or after a stressful day. Staying present also allows you to regulate your breathing, a key component in reducing anxiety — here are some poses to try.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and raise your arms to the sides so they are parallel to the floor. Keep your shoulder blades wide, and your palms facing down. Turn your left foot in slightly and your right foot out to 90 degrees, rotating your right thigh outward so that your knee is in line with your foot. Keep your heels in line with each other. Extend your torso to the right directly over your right leg, bending at the hip. Keeping both sides of your torso long, rotate it to the left. Rest your right hand on your shin, ankle, or the floor outside your right foot. Stretch your left arm towards the ceiling in line with your shoulders, and turn your head to look up towards your hand. Stay in this pose for 30 seconds to one minute. Inhale as you come up, pressing your back heel into the floor and reaching your left arm towards the ceiling. Repeat on the other side. The pose improves muscle tone and helps you feel super strong, long, and relaxed.
Stand with your feet together and your weight on your left foot. Keeping the inner foot firm to the floor, bend your right knee, raising your foot off the ground. Reach down with your left hand and clasp your right ankle, drawing it up in front of your left hip. As you continue to hold your right foot with your left hand, bring your right hand up to the center of your chest. Remain in this position for 30 seconds to one minute. Slowly bring your foot back down to the ground with a controlled exhalation and repeat on the other side.
Standing with your feet together and your knees slightly bent, lift your left leg and cross your left thigh over your right thigh. Point your toes toward the floor, then press your foot back to hook around your lower right calf.
Stretch your arms straight forward and cross them at the elbows, with your right arm on top. Bend your arms to a 90 degree angle and snug your right elbow into the crook of your left, keeping your forearms perpendicular to the floor. Move your right hand forward and to the right around your left hand, so that your palms are now facing each other. Press your palms together as much as you can. Stay in this position for 15 to 30 seconds, and repeat on the other side.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Extend your arms over your head and interlock your fingers, releasing your pointer fingers and pointing them towards the ceiling. Take one step forward on your right foot, and slowly bend forward as your back leg extends straight behind you, with your toes pointing to the back wall. You should be looking straight ahead while keeping your arms next to your ears. Stop bending forward when your back is parallel to the floor. Try to keep your back leg in line with the rest of the body so that you look like a ‘T’ from the side. You only need to hold this posture for 10 seconds. Repeat twice on each side.
Lie on the floor on your back, extending your legs straight and keeping your arms down at your sides, palms facing up. Gently squeeze your shoulder blades together and then relax. Close your eyes and breathe mindfully. Relax your face, remove your tongue from the roof of your mouth and let your jaw relax. Stay in this position from 2 to 15 minutes.
Corpse pose is an exceptionally restorative yoga pose. This pose is beneficial for stress and anxiety relief, as it helps you experience a deep calming effect by focusing on your breath and allowing your mind and body to decompress.
Dr. Liza has had extensive experience consulting with senior executives, celebrities, professional athletes and political leaders on health matters, injury treatment + prevention and stress reduction strategies. She is a sought out speaker and has presented for the Ontario government, workplaces throughout Toronto, luxury hotels and various events. She has also provided treated for members of the Toronto Maple Leafs, various Olympians and backstage for some of music’s biggest stars. She is a regular guest expert on CTV’s The Social, The Marilyn Denis Show and CTV Morning Live.
To learn more about Dr.Liza, visit her website at www.drlizaegbogah.com