Yoga for stress relief is a potent ancient practice used over the centuries to alleviate anxiousness and stress. Yoga stimulates mental and physical relaxation, reducing stress and anxiety. The physical postures promote flexibility, relieve tension, and alleviate pain.
Yoga poses may help the release of emotions and tension. They also promote the release of mood-boosting endorphins, which are the feel-good hormones that positively affect stress management.
In a world today, where stress and anxiety levels have reached breaking point, people resort to whatever relief they can find. Some are the not so healthy options, quick fixes like drugs or alcohol, while others like exercise programs and eating healthy food go a long way to improving the overall quality of life.
So in one practice, yoga benefits both the mind and body.
Yoga is a 5,000-year-old Hindu discipline. Spread into Western society by the hippie generation of the 60s and early 70s.
One of the world's oldest forms of exercise is experiencing a rebirth in our stressful modern world. Its mystic foreign image is gone. Now a fashionable mainstream body, mind and spirit practice.
As there are many variations of yoga to study, enthusiastic students can enjoy endless years of practice.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is usually considered a physical exercise. But it can be a lot more when it includes the mental and spiritual aspects.
Different yogis will view this joining or union in different ways. Some may feel that it is uniting yourself with a spiritual force or higher power. Others may believe that it is about connecting all aspects of yourself and your life. While others may think of it as a joining of body, mind, and spirit.
Through practice, it improves your strength, stamina, and posture.
Contrary to some criticisms, the practice is faith neutral. It has no links to any organised religion or form of worship, although it can be a spiritual experience. It has emerged from the weird and alternative into the mainstream ranks of western society acceptance.
Old and young. Housewives, business people, sportspeople are all practising yoga's physical movements together with its valuable breathing techniques.
Yoga is not a cult, as sometimes reported. However, like with many organisations, there have been rare abuses like that of Bikram yoga.
Yoga to Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Hatha Yoga is the most popular form in the West.
Hatha emphasises the practices of postures to stretch and strengthen the body. At the same time, it will improve balance and flexibility, body awareness and mental concentration.
All forms incorporate the practice of controlled breathing techniques known as pranayama. Proper breathing optimises the exercises and rests the mind from its constant chatter, inducing an internal calm that energises and invigorates the body.
Simple breathing practices reduce stress and anxiety. They also promote restful sleep; ease pain; increase attention and focus. On a more subtle level, help people connect to a calm, quiet place within.
As stress levels have reached new heights, Raja Yoga, focussing on meditation, has grown in popularity.
Benefits of Yoga to Reduce Stress and Anxiety
From 2012 to 2017, the percentage of people in the United States practising yoga increased. In adults from 9.5% to 14.3% and children from 3.1% to 8.4%.
The 2012 National Health Interview Survey reported that around 94% of people who practice yoga in the U.S. do so for wellness reasons. Saying that yoga benefits their health by:
Stretching and toning, though beneficial, are not the primary reasons people turn to yoga. Many newcomers hope that it will help them handle their daily stress and tension. The difference between yoga and other exercise forms is that yoga has a calm meditative, or mindfulness quality.
Some medical practitioners even prescribe yoga for a range of health ailments and illnesses. As yoga, in addition to being an effective stress reliever, complements other fitness programs.
There is no doubt that chronic and accumulated stress is the cause of many of our modern illnesses.
Some believe that yoga offers a holistic approach to health and fitness. Unlike drug therapy, its multi-pronged method combats causes and not just the symptoms.
With the focus on strength, breathing and flexibility, the techniques work effectively on children and adults.
Hint: When children are quarrelling, tell them to stop, to raise their arms above their heads, to lean forward and breathe deeply. It will calm them down and help them to relax. This solution also works for adults behaving like children!
Talk to anyone who practises yoga, and they will rave about the endless benefits. Beginners are quick to become converts. Believing it is the key to good health and happiness in today's messy world.
For many, yoga becomes a way of life - often providing the spiritual part of people's lives.
Many professional athletes looking for an edge have turned to yoga to supplement their training. They have found that yoga aids their mental and physical state—both between training sessions and in their crucial build-up to big meets. Where having a mental edge is often the difference between winning and losing.
One of yoga's major attractions is that it combines physical and mental exercise. It is excellent for posture and flexibility—both critical physical elements for most sportspeople. Besides, there are also health benefits.
Marian Fenlon, one of Brisbane's leading yoga teachers of the past 20 years, even taught yoga to footballers. Many years ago, she took Brisbane Souths rugby league team for an eight-week course and, amazingly, it was well-received.
She says there are eight components to yoga therapy. These include attitude, discipline, posture and flexibility, breathing, sensory awareness, concentration, contemplation and meditation. And all of these elements are important for professional athletes.
Yoga Supports, Complements and Enhances
Yoga can play a meaningful support role in modern medicine. And with other fitness and exercise programs.
While there is no significant component of aerobic fitness in yoga therapy, it complements aerobic exercise because of the breathing and flexibility techniques.
So there are advantages for even the most demanding aerobic sports - swimming, cycling and running.
There are many documented cases of yoga relieving or even curing various illnesses. Such as Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, and respiratory diseases like asthma and emphysema.
The practice is deceptive. It looks easy, but many advanced positions need strength, while others demand extreme flexibility.
Yoga is good for everyone. It complements strength, improves breathing and posture and adds stretching to aerobic sports, and everyone can do it.
Some Resources to Try:
Free: (this is the program I started with and still do) Yogarove
Free and Paid (for women): YOGABURN - Helping Women Get Lighter, Healthier and Happier