It’s no secret; life can be stressful. Whether you are dealing with chronic stress and anxiety, or situations and complications that arise in everyday life, the effects of stress are very real. Physical responses to stress may involve tension, hypoxic breathing episodes, hair loss, and indigestion. Emotionally, you may become irritable and cranky as trouble sleeping occurs. In extreme moments of anxiety or stress, it may seem like nothing will help.
“Yoga is the practice of quieting your mind.”—Patanjali, author of The Yoga Sutras
Yoga has long been known to be a great answer to stress, as it encourages relaxation, which is stress’s natural antithesis. While yoga is most touted for its physical benefits, yoga also incorporates a variety of common stress-reduction strategies—including learning to regulate one’s breathing, calm one’s thoughts, and relax one’s body.
Hatha yoga is the physical application of yoga poses, focused on posture and breathing techniques. Hatha yoga can be practiced in a variety of styles, some more leisurely and geared toward stretching, while others are faster and more of a physical workout. Any yoga style can assist with stress reduction, so don’t worry about the style of class you choose to join. Select a style that fits your personality and level of physical fitness.
Exercise of any kind can help reduce stress by keeping the body healthy and producing endorphins, which are feel-good hormones. Yoga’s stretching techniques can also help with relaxation. Yoga stretches help to relieve tension in trouble spots such as the shoulders and hips. Another common advantage is the reduction of low back pain.
Every yoga practice must include pranayama, or breath work, which is also a skill that translates well into everyday life. Engaging in a regular Yoga practice raises your awareness of using breath as a tool for relaxation. Although breathing is an involuntary act needed to survive, you can choose to regulate your breathing. Simply learning to take deep breaths and understanding that this can be a quick way to deal with stressful situations, is incredibly effective.
Yoga offers a variety of techniques for quieting the mind’s chatter. Breathwork is just one example. You can only breathe in the present moment; you can’t breathe in the past or the future. Every breath is intricately linked to the present moment. One method for calming the mind is to focus solely on each inhalation and exhalation. This is also a fundamental meditation technique.
Doing yoga asanas also serves as a form of meditation. Due to the physical effort and focus required by each posture, all other thoughts and worries are put on hold. Thus, the chatter quietens, and your brain is allowed to rest.
Each yoga class concludes with at least five minutes of relaxation in corpse pose—savasana. Although it might be challenging at first, forced relaxation eventually leads to complete body and mind release. Savasana returns you to the world refreshed, equipped with the tools needed to deal with stress experienced throughout the day.
The benefits of yoga for mind, body, and spirit have been well-documented, however are difficult to truly comprehend until experienced. If you frequently experience stress, chronic or situational, consider yoga as an option in your toolkit for self-care. Your first class is just a click away! Look no further than the Yoga Body Shop. Our community is dedicated to helping you prepare and strengthen yourself for life off the mat. Visit our class schedule to book your first session. Our new student introductory special will give you two weeks of unlimited yoga for only $39!