How Yoga Can Help Reduce Stress
Yoga has long been known to be a great antidote to stress. Yoga combines many popular stress-reducing techniques, including exercise and learning to control the breath, clear the mind, and relax the body. As yoga becomes increasingly popular, more and more people are discovering the benefits this ancient practice brings to their stressful lives. Establishing a consistent yoga routine is the best way to experience the difference yoga can make. Start with a stress management yoga routine that is intended for beginners who think they don’t have time for yoga.
How To Use Yoga Breathing To Alleviate Stress
Breathing exercises, known as pranayama in Sanskrit, teach you to relax, regulate your breath, and breathe deeply. This helps reduce stress and calm your body and mind. Breathing techniques can also enhance your sleep quality and encourage mindfulness.
You can do breathing exercises during your yoga practice or when you want to focus on relaxation throughout the day. These techniques are also useful when you experience uncomfortable emotions or difficult situations.
A few popular types of pranayama include:
You can get started with the following yoga poses to relieve stress.
Release Negativity During Your Yoga Practice
Negative thoughts are bound to arise when you do yoga. You can practice awareness, acceptance, and detachment to create positive mental patterns. This may help you have fewer negative thoughts and be less affected by them.
Learn to focus on the present moment and bring your attention to your thoughts as they arise and pass, which helps you recognize their fleeting nature.
Each time you find yourself getting lost in your thoughts â whether theyâre positive or negative â bring your awareness back to your breath and body. Over time, you can make it a habit to detach from both positive and negative states of mind.
Read Also: Size Of Yoga Ball
Yoga Poses Stimulate The Vagus Nerve
The parasympathetic nervous system helps us to feel safe and calm, and various aspects of yoga help to stimulate it, says Valerie Knopik, PhD, a psychologist, professor at Purdue University, and yoga instructor at Yoga Medicine based in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Yoga stimulates the vagus nerve by enhancing interoception, or how we perceive sensations arising in the body.
Practices that increase interoception enable a person to distinguish between safe and fearful or dangerous situations, Knopik says.
Yoga also increases vagal tone, which means your body is able to relax sooner after stress. Knopik says that increasing your vagal tone could reduce the symptoms of nervous system dysfunction, such as feelings of anxiety.
Yoga offers many opportunities to experience interoception and stimulate the vagus nerve. Through physical movement, you can explore sensation as it arises in your body by developing awareness of what muscles are being challenged, stretched, or released.
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.
You May Like: Best Free Roku Yoga Channels
Release Your Tension And Relax With These Grounding Practices
Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you.
Its the start of November, which means its also the start of the holiday season. And while its true that this can be the most wonderful time of the year, it can also be a lot. If youre experiencing increased stress or anxiety during this time, these practices will allow you to calm down and relax in a matter of minutes. So, sneak away from your family and your to-do list for a few minutes, and try one of these soothing practices. You deserve it.
Outside+ members get access to the full library of all of Yoga Journals practicesincluding the ones belowto help you find your flow. Members also get access to our complete archive, from inspirational stories to practices by best-in-class teachers. Not a member? Theres never been a better time to sign up.
Meditation Advice For Feeling The Natural Pacing Of Life:
Stop focusing on your effort to achieve something and instead simply create a vision of what you desire, then focus on that as you meditate.
When you think of your goal, imagine watching it and waiting to see what happens, instead of thinking about what you must do to force it to happen.
Give yourself permission to let problems and anxious feelings fall away naturally look at them with indifference and spend your time mentally reinforcing the positive instead.
Recommended Reading: Hanging Yoga Swing
Try These Simple But Very Effective Yogic Mudras
Mudrashave been used for thousands of years to help ease the mind and body, providing relief from a number of different conditions including dealing with common anxiety issues.
Take a comfortable seat and practice any of these mudras with slow and gentle breaths for 5-10 minutes.
- Gyan Mudra
Join the tips of the index finger and thumb and keep the other 3 fingers stretched, relaxed, and joined.
- Kalesvara Mudra
Touch tips of middle fingers. Touch the first two joints of the index fingers and touch your thumbs. Bend the remaining fingers inward. Point your thumbs toward your chest and spread your elbows to the outside. Observe your breath and lengthen the pause after inhalation and after exhalation.
- Uttarabodhi Mudra
Hold the hands in front of the solar plexus. Interlock the fingers. The index fingers and thumbs of both hands should be joined together. While the index fingers point to the ceiling, the thumb points to the floor.
- Apan Vayu Mudra
The tip of the index finger should be pressed gently against the root of the thumb and the second and the third finger should touch the inner tip of the thumb.
- Agni Shakti Mudra
Touch the fingers of both the hands to the palms and join both the tips of thumbs together.
The Effects Of Meditation Yoga And Mindfulness On Depression Anxiety And Stress In Tertiary Education Students: A Meta
- 1Department of Psychiatry, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam University Medical Center, Amsterdam, Netherlands
- 2Research Department, Mental Health Foundation, London, United Kingdom
- 3Department of Clinical, Neuro-, and Developmental Psychology, Amsterdam Public Health Research Institute, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands
- 4Department of Psychology, Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany
- 5Mental Health and Addictions Research Group, Department of Health Sciences, University of York, York, United Kingdom
Background: Meditation, yoga, and mindfulness are popular interventions at universities and tertiary education institutes to improve mental health. However, the effects on depression, anxiety, and stress are unclear. This study assessed the effectiveness of meditation, yoga, and mindfulness on symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress in tertiary education students.
Methods: We searched Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials , PubMed, PsycINFO and identified 11,936 articles. After retrieving 181 papers for full-text screening, 24 randomized controlled trials were included in the qualitative analysis. We conducted a random-effects meta-analysis amongst 23 studies with 1,373 participants.
You May Like: Yoga For Degenerative Disc Disease
Why Use Yoga As An Adjunct Treatment For Anxiety
Yoga leads to a cessation of the fluctuations of the mind
The impact of anxiety can be severe, and there are times that people feel dissatisfied with the solutions they are currently presented. While medication is often a vital part of any treatment plan, patients can sometimes be uncomfortable with side-effects or the thought of a difficult withdrawal. According to Baldwin and Polkinghorn , 50% of people prescribed pharmacological intervention reported an improvement in symptoms, and a US-based study concluded that up to 30% of patients may be treatment resistant finding front-line interventions ineffective.
This goes some way to explain why 56% of those living with anxiety disorders seek complementary and alternative medicine hinting at a widespread desire for further support outside of traditional treatment plans. With a growing body of scientific literature to guide clinical practice in applying yoga as a treatment of anxiety, yoga therapy can step into this gap and provide additional support helping people regulate their stress response, increase their resiliency and manage their anxiety.
Some postures are challenging, but you are learning to relax under physical duress and this can help you handle long-term anxiety.
Yoga Sequence For Anxiety
The following yoga sequence offers suggestions for gentle movement to promote relaxation and stress relief.
A few poses focus on releasing tension in the neck and shoulders. Others help release the psoas muscle, a hip flexor that connects to the diaphragm. It can constrict and shorten the breath when tight, which may contribute to feelings of anxiety.
If you require more movement from your yoga practice, try Sun Salutations . Sun Salutations synchronize breath and movement to flow from one pose to the next. Theyre often practiced in Vinyasa yoga classes.
You might consider adding Sun Salutations to the following yoga for anxiety routine.
Recommended Reading: Yoga Ball Moves To Induce Labor
Find Calm In 60 Seconds With This Guided Grounding Practice
Nothing drains your sense of peace and drags you off-kilter like a jittery mind on overdrive. Want to get unstuck and quit dwelling on the why? Colleen Saidman Yee personally turns to this one-minute antidote when anxiety takes over. This brief yet powerful practice brings you squarely back to centerand you can do it anywhere.
Meditation Advice For Seeing Your Path:
As you meditate, visualize a path through a forest, down a mountain, along the beach, into a city wherever you are comfortable and allow your mind to lead you to the answers.
Quietness is hard to achieve for many people. Don’t give up you will do better with practice.
Simply practice letting go of thoughts as they come to you, then returning to the focus of your meditation, whether it’s your breath, a flame, or a mantra.
Recommended Reading: How Much Yoga Per Day
Can’t Get Into Meditation Try These 4 Breathing Exercises Instead
If youve ever been stressed or anxious, youve probably been told to take a deep breath. Deep breathing techniques are often used for relaxation and stress management and can be a great way to calm the nerves and reduce anxiety.
Whether youre feeling anxious about a big event coming up or youve just had a hard day, breathing exercises are an easily accessible tool you can keep on hand to cope. Yoga breathing has also been known to improve quality of sleep and mindfulness, both of which can help to improve mental health.
In fact, I became interested in getting my certification in yoga because of the positive benefits yoga had on my sleep and anxiety levels. I no longer needed my anxiety or sleeping medication once I started practicing yoga regularly! I attribute that mostly to the breathwork that I learned in my yoga classes and practiced daily.
A Little Bit Of Anxiety Is Okay
Stress, fear, anxiety if we start counting all those instances in life when we have experienced these emotions, we may lose count! Anxiety and nervousness over passing an important exam like the SAT, a first date or a job interview, catching an early morning flight, trying some extreme sports, a flat tire, a rainy forecast, or a parking ticket we have all lived through moments like these.
A little bit of fear is normal. In fact, just like salt in food, some small amounts of fear can be good, helping us stay disciplined, focused, and dynamic.
So it is very important to remember to be gentle on yourself. Its ok! Just as you experience happiness sometimes, experiencing anxiety is also natural.
Don’t Miss: How To Prepare For Hot Yoga
Comparison To Active Controls
In line with prior research on meditation programs, there was no evidence that meditation, yoga or mindfulness was more effective than active control . We had a limited number of subgroups so were unable to segment our analysis by active treatment or active non-specific control . All our controls were deemed specific controls and thus are in line with who found that meditation-based interventions were only more effective when compared to non-specific active control.
Research on psychotherapy in a similar population found that effects were also not more effective compared to active control . For exercise, these interventions were more effective compared to placebo control although further comparison with specific controls was not possible . Similar results were found for interventions and other mental health interventions . The above summary indicates that the results are in line with previous research on both mindfulness and meditation interventions and behavioral interventions. As far as we are aware, we have not yet identified similar comparisons to specific or non-specific control conditions as detailed in Goyal et al. for behavioral interventions, which would be an interesting element to explore in future research.
Tips For Starting A Relaxation Practice
Learning the basics of these relaxation techniques isnt difficult, but it takes regular practice to truly harness their stress-relieving power. Try setting aside at least 10 to 20 minutes a day for your relaxation practice.
Set aside time in your daily schedule. If possible, schedule a set time once or twice a day for your practice. If your schedule is already packed, try meditating while commuting on the bus or train, taking a yoga or tai chi break at lunchtime, or practicing mindful walking while exercising your dog.
Make use of smartphone apps and other aids. Many people find that smartphone apps or audio downloads can be useful in guiding them through different relaxation practices, establishing a regular routine, and keeping track of progress.
Expect ups and downs. Sometimes it can take time and practice to start reaping the full rewards of relaxation techniques such as meditation. The more you stick with it, the sooner the results will come. If you skip a few days or even a few weeks, dont get discouraged. Just get started again and slowly build up to your old momentum.
Need to talk to someone?
Get affordable online counseling from BetterHelp or visit HelpGuides directory for free helplines and crisis resources. HelpGuide is reader supported. We may receive a commission if you sign up for BetterHelp through the provided link. Learn more.
Read Also: Vinyasa Yoga Calories Burned Per Hour
Employ Stress Relief Techniques Off The Mat
To manage stress off the mat, take a look at your schedule and lifestyle to see where you can make changes. This may include allowing yourself more free time, developing a healthy eating plan, or spending more time in nature.
While yoga can provide tremendous benefits, itâs important to remember that you will still experience the ups and downs of life. Itâs natural to experience a wide range of feelings and emotions.
If you find your yoga practice creates more stress in your life, talk to an instructor who can help you develop a routine tailored to your needs. And, as always, talk to your doctor before starting any yoga routine, especially if you have any health conditions or take medications.
Assessment Tools And Management
To collect data, the questionnaire of DASS-21 was used. The validity and reliability of this standard questionnaire was examined by Sahebi et al. and Cronbach’s alpha was estimated 0.7, 0.66 and 0.76 for depression, anxiety, and stress, respectively. in a study entitled validation of depression anxiety and stress scale for an Iranian population. Each of the above mentioned states are assessed with seven questions. Hatha yoga exercises and training sessions were held 3 time/weeks 60-70 min each by a specialist. Before the intervention, questionnaires were completed by women. The intervention lasted 12 sessions. At the end of the 12th session, the questionnaire of DASS-21 was again completed by women.
Read Also: Art Of Living Yoga Studio
A Yoga Sequence To Train Your Brain To Relax
Chronic stress and anxiety signal the brain to wreak havoc on your body. The secret to hitting reset? Yoga. Mindful Yoga Therapy was developed to aid returning military service members suffering from PTSD, but a version of this same practice can help us all develop the skills to better manage stress and anxiety. Because these conditions may manifest themselves differently in every body, it is important to remember that the following sequence isnt a cure-all its simply one way to find some peace of mind. Practice these poses, designed to access the parasympathetic nervous system, with a soft, steady Ujjayi breathbreathing in and out through the nose with an oceanlike soundwith equal inhales and exhales and a relaxed face. Both breath and asana will also help you stay in the present moment and counter the great deal of pain and anxiety that can arise when thinking about the past and future, explains Suzanne Manafort, the founder of Mindful Yoga Therapy. Practice as many times a week as you can and youll start to see a shift in the way you react to stress.