Leave Your Comfort Zone
Just showing up to any yoga class is not enough. If your stress style tends toward fight-or-flight, and you huff and puff your way through Power Yoga classes and leave before Savasana, you probably wont transform your stress response. Practicing that way just makes yoga another arena where you engage in your usual stress-response style. For people who move through life in full emergency mode, the starting place to learn balance is typically Savasana. This pose teaches you how to put the usually suppressed parasympathetic nervous system in charge and give the hypercharged sympathetic nervous system a rest.
When one of my students, Monica Hanson, first came to yoga, she was a self-described type-A executive in her early 30s. The idea of relaxation was terrifying, and she could not imagine how relaxing could possibly help her handle real-world stress. I was afraid that if I let go of the tension, I would fall apart, she says. Tension was the glue that held me together.
Her first experience in Savasana was anything but relaxing. Her emergency response fought to stay in control. I was sweating and shaking. My heart was racing. I wanted to run away, she says. But underneath the anxiety was a sense of being fully alive and yet calmsomething that Hanson had never felt before. This taste of how her mind and body could hold such opposites was the beginning of her stress transformation.
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Anxiety And Yoga Therapy
We tend to think of anxiety as a response to stressful circumstances. Whether its butterflies in the stomach or cant-sit-still-nerves, theres a wide range anxiety we can experience on an occasional basis that is unpleasant, but endurable and to a certain extent, rational.
In contrast, when people with an anxiety disorder are asked to describe an anxiety attack, they often say a variation of I thought I was going to die. Whether its a persistent feeling of dread or intermittent panic, the hyperarousal of the fight/flight survival response creates a feeling of urgent fear and unignorable physical symptoms. So how can someone begin to calm down when their body is telling them that they are in mortal danger?
Meditation, visualization, and focusing on breathing can help with letting go of worry and fear. The overall practice of yoga can elicit the relaxation response, allowing both the body and mind to gain a sense of calm and ease.
Katharina Star, PhD. Counsellor Specialising in Anxiety
Yoga therapy can help people in this situation because they arent being asked to rationalise their way out of anxiety. Instead, they are given tools that help them recognise the thoughts, feelings and actions that lead to heightened anxiety, and enact effective self-soothing methods. In a yoga class, they are also unconsciously learning to regulate their stress response and building resilience to stress.
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How Yoga Can Help With Stress
Our bodies are designed to deal with stress and to protect us in stressful situations. When we are faced with a threat our body goes into a fight or flight response to help us protect ourselves from the perceived danger. The heart will beat faster, breathing quickens, muscles tense and you might sweat. These physical effects fade when the threat disappears but if you are constantly under pressure then the body stays in this alerted state and it can be harmful for the body. Physically affects such as headaches, muscle tension or sleep problems can occur. Longer term health issues develop after being under stress for long, sustained periods of time.
Stress can make us feel anxious, irritable, overwhelmed and you may worry or have difficulty concentrating or sleeping.
Due to the damaging effects on the body, we should try and avoid stress. This can be easier said than done however as there are often changes and stressful situations in life that we have to deal with. Yoga, meditation and mindfulness techniques are good ways of trying to cope better with stress.
1. Focus on BreathOur breath may quicken when we are stressed as part of the fight or flight response. Breathing slowly and mindfully activates the hypothalamus, connected to the pituitary gland in the brain, to send out hormones that inhibit stress-producing hormones and trigger a relaxation response in the body. We focus on gentle relaxed breathing as part of our yoga practice.
It Lulls You With Music
The music in your yoga class can quite literally set your mood. Research in the Journal of Music Therapy shows that listening to relaxing music reduces stressors effects on anxiety, heart rate, and blood pressure.3 How? Music can reduce cortisol levels while prompting your body to produce feel-good endorphins, Wilson says.
If you feel overwhelmed these days, give yoga for stress relief a try. These yoga poses for stress and headaches might be a good place to start for many. See our complete list of articles about stress for more information.
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Yoga For Calm: 5 Poses To Relieve Stress
When were stressed out, our sympathetic nervous system responds as if were in danger aka the fight-or-flight response. And while not all stress is bad, chronic stress can lead to a myriad of health issues such as:
- reduced immunity
To help combat stress, yoga can be a particularly effective tool. Thanks to its physical benefits like toned muscles and increased flexibility, its become incredibly popular. But its actually the internal effects that make it so powerful.
Studies have shown yoga to be linked to lowered cortisol levels , increased resilience and pain tolerance, improved mood, and reduced anxiety. Certain yoga poses and longer hold times are even believed to activate the parasympathetic nervous system our rest-and-digest response, which is the bodys antidote to fight-or-flight.
The best part of yoga is that you dont need to spend a fortune on medications or invest in any fancy equipment to get healthy. All you need is your body and your breath.
Try this 5-pose sequence to reduce stress and help cultivate your inner calm:
This reclined resting pose will help you feel both supported and anchored. Having your feet on the floor encourages a settled feeling, while hugging your arms can be comforting.
Muscles lengthened: rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, quadriceps
Muscles strengthened: serratus anterior, pectoralis, hamstrings, internal hip rotators
Muscles strengthened: hip flexors, lower abdominals
Legs Against The Wall Pose
A very relaxing pose, Legs Against the Wall gives the body a much-needed rest, calming the nervous system, aiding in circulation, calming the mind, and taking pressure off the spine and neck as the body sinks into the floor.
How to do it:
Position your body with knees close to your chest next to a bare wall thats free of any potential obstacles. Exhale and, in one smooth movement, roll onto your back as you swing your legs up against the wall. Keep your legs straight and relatively firm as you sink your shoulders and back into the floor. Draw your head and neck away from your shoulders, and extend your arms out to the sides, palms facing up. Remain in the pose between five and 10 minutes, breathing in a gentle and relaxed manner. When coming out of the pose, bend your knees as you easily roll to your side and off your support.
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Yoga Relaxes You To Help You Sleep Better
Research shows;that a consistent bedtime yoga routine can help you get in the right mindset and prepare your body to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Try It:;Legs-Up-the-Wall PoseSit with your left side against a wall, then gently turn right and lift your legs up to rest against the wall, keeping your back on the floor and your sitting bones close to the wall. You can remain in this position for 5 to 15 minutes.;
Develop Connection Between The Mind And Body
When the mind and body are connected, theres generally a greater sense of harmony and ease in our lives. The body sends important signals when something is off balance, which happens so often when we are under pressure. Having the ability to respond is therefore really important for our wellbeing.
Yoga teaches us to be sensitive to each movement and to listen to our bodies. The practice encourages us to exist in the present moment and to live in a more mindful, conscious and connected way.
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Yoga Helps With Back Pain Relief
Yoga is as good as basic stretching for easing pain and improving mobility in people with lower back pain. The American College of Physicians recommends yoga as a first-line treatment for chronic low back pain.Try it:;Cat-Cow PoseGet on all fours, placing your palms underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. First, inhale, as you let your stomach drop down toward the floor. Then, exhale, as you draw your navel toward your spine, arching your spine like a cat stretching.;
It Deepens Your Breathing
Theres a reason people say, take a deep breath. Deep breathing literally slows your sympathetic nervous system, which acts a lot like a gas pedal for your body, says Donielle Wilson, ND, CPM, CNS, author of The Stress Remedy. Yoga uses slow and most importantly, deep belly breaths to lower your bodys levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as supply your brain with more of the oxygen it needs to work at its best. The result: Youre calmer and better able to solve the problems causing you stress.
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Yoga Is More Than Just Stretching
Lots of people think of yoga as stretching or twisting the body into various impossible-looking pretzel shapes. But yoga is easier than it looks. There are simple poses as well as complicated ones, so there’s;something for every ability. Yoga requires no special equipment, so you can do it almost anywhere.
Yoga poses are good exercise and can help loosen up the tense muscles in your body. The areas of the body that tend to carry the most stress are the neck, shoulders, and back. But other parts of the body also can benefit from simple yoga stretches.
Yoga is so much more than just physical exercise, though. The key to getting the best out of each pose is to focus not only on your body, but also on your mind and breathing.
Yoga For Anxiety: Try These 5 Easy Exercises To Beat Stress
- Looking for some calming poses to deal with anxiety or stress disorder? Check inside for the steps and benefits of 5 easy-to-do Yoga asana at home to get promising results
Meditation, good sleeping routine and stretching helps one to focus and relax but when anxiety starts to creep in or during times of stress, many people turn to Yoga. It might seem contradictory but by exercising and putting physical stress on ones body, mental tensions can be relieved.
Yoga is a form of exercise that combines stretching, breathing, relaxation and meditation and has various asana or body postures that include sitting meditation pose, reclining, standing, inverted, twisting and balancing poses to overcome all kinds of sufferings and lead to ‘the state of liberation’ or ‘freedom’ and self-realisation. Studies have often suggested that Yoga can enhance mood and according to some researches, it may even be as effective as antidepressant drugs at treating depression and anxiety.
Yoga practice helps lower stress and anxiety by releasing endorphins, improving sleep pattern and self-image. Hence, people who do Yoga regularly are less likely to experience anxiety as compared to those who dont since benefits of the asana are strongest when one performs them regularly.
Looking for some calming poses to deal with anxiety or stress disorder? Check below for the steps and benefits of 5 easy-to-do Yoga asana at home to get promising results.
1. Sukhasana or easy pose
4. Vrikshasana or tree pose
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Practice Breathing And Meditation During Your Yoga
One of the reasons yoga may help reduce stress is that it emphasizes relaxed breathing techniques, also known as pranayama.6 Breathing and meditation can have a profound effect on your stress levels. Relaxing the shoulders, neck, jaw, and throat can help you breathe in a more relaxed fashion, helping you melt away stress in the process.7
Yoga Poses That Help Reduce Anxiety
Using yoga for anxiety is truly helpful because in order to perform the movements correctly, and to get the most out of each pose, its crucial that you focus on your physical body and not any erroneous or stressful thoughts circulating in your head or even whats going on in your surrounding environment.
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Start With Some Mindfulness
Lets start with your breath. This is a great way to slow down, become present in the moment and connect with yourself:;
Do this four times .
The Benefits Of Yoga For Stress Management
Dating back over 5,000 years, yoga is considered by many to be the oldest defined practice of self-development. The methods of classical yoga include ethical disciplines, physical postures, breathing control, and meditation. Traditionally an Eastern practice, its now becoming popular in the West. In fact, many companies, especially in Britain, are seeing the benefits of yoga, recognizing that relaxed workers are healthier and more creative, and are sponsoring yoga fitness programs.;
Many studies have found that a little yoga in the morning, at night, or even on a lunch break, can minimize stress and increase productivity. It is believed that yoga is so effective for stress relief because, aside from the physical benefits that yoga brings, it encourages a good mood, an increase in mindfulness, and a healthy dose of self-compassion.
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Yoga Pose #4 Bhujangasana: Cobra Pose
It is a highly effective yoga pose for stress reduction. Along with it has many physical health benefits to offer like bringing relief in asthma.
Lie down on your stomach. Place your hands near your shoulder. Now, slowly inhale and lift your chest from the floor with your hands placed in the same position.
Why is it a Great Yoga Pose for Stress Relief?
- This yoga pose provides with immediate relaxation
- It eases our breathing process by opening up our chest
- Pain in muscles is also reduced by this yoga pose
Required time for this Relaxing Yoga Pose: 30 seconds are good enough to relax yourself.
Video Guide of This Yoga Pose to Reduce Stress:
What Are Yoga And Meditation
Inherent in the philosophy of yoga and meditation is the reduction of suffering and the increase in ones vitality and full potential in life. Yoga is a holistic practice that integrates three basic components: breath , physical poses , and meditation . According to Buddhist traditions, mindfulness meditation is defined as the ability to maintain attention on a specific object , with an emphasis on returning to beneficial thoughts. The practice of mindfulness meditation within a yoga class can facilitate increased awareness of present-moment experiences and focus, rather than resisting or trying to clear the mind of uncomfortable, negative thoughts. In this way, yoga and meditation practice in the context of a yoga class can support the process of learning how to disengage from evaluative thinking through cultivating an attitude of curiosity and attention to ongoing reactions to emotions, thoughts, and feelings.
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