How can yoga help you relieve stress?
Yoga is one of the world’s most longstanding and popular forms of workout, originating some 5000 years ago with the Hindi population in India according to early records from the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India. Today, yoga is tremendously popular for many reasons, but is particularly helpful for stress relief due to the fact that it is an integrated practice that combines physical poses with controlled breathing and meditation or relaxation.
According to the Mayo Clinic this allows Yoga to immediately lower your stress, lower your blood pressure, and even lower your resting heart rate as well. Even better – nearly everyone can do it.
There are many varieties of yoga ranging from athletic-paced workouts and hot yoga, which takes place in a heated room at a temperature of 105 degrees and 40% humidity to Yin yoga, which is done on a mat on the floor and focuses on deep stretching and breathing. For beginning exercisers and athletes, it may be best to start with Hatha Yoga, which is one of the most longstanding and popular categories. The slower pace and easier movements can be easier to manage for many exercisers and provide a more direct path to the stress reduction that even 1-3 sessions per week can provide.
The enjoyment of yoga depends on personal preference. But whether you prefer in-home workouts perhaps guided by a DVD or a streaming service or the atmosphere of a professional studio, the core components and benefits are the same:
Poses: Yoga poses, often called postures, can range from simple to intense and help to increase flexibility, balance and strength. You should be careful to never extend a pose to the point of pain. Instructors can provide you with modifications as needed to make the experience ideal for you.
Breathing: Controlled breathing is a trademark of any yoga practice, and inherently assists you in controlling your body and quieting your mind.
Meditation: Yoga incorporates meditation and relaxation as well, which is important for helping you to be more mindful and more present in all parts of your life.
The health benefits of yoga.
The many health benefits of yoga could make it one of your favorite forms of movement in the seasons to come. There are many studies on the benefits of yoga from organizations ranging from the National Institute of Health to Harvard Business Review to even the U.S. Military that document yoga’s ability to improve mood and eliminate stress. And with regular practice, yoga increases your fitness by enhancing flexibility, balance and strength—all components of helping you to be as relaxed and happy as you could possibly be. Finally, yoga helps to reduce the risk factors of chronic conditions such as depression, pain and anxiety and insomnia.
Is Yoga for everyone?
Nearly everyone can practice yoga safely. But for certain conditions such as eye disorders, balance disorders, herniated disks, risk of blood clots, severe osteoporosis or uncontrolled diabetes you should check with your health practitioner to be certain yoga is safe for you, or to learn about the modifications you should make to allow you to participate safely.
- “History of Yoga,” by Timothy Burgin, YogaBasics.com
- “Stress Management”, by Mayo Clinic Staff, Sept. 19, 2019, MayoClinic.org
- “Yoga, What You Need to Know,” by nccih.nih.gov
- “Yoga, Benefits Beyond the Mat,” by Harvard Health Publishing, February 2015, Health.Harvard.edu
- “Yoga therapy for military personnel and veterans: Qualitative perspectives of yoga students and instructors,” by Meghan Maiya, Danielle Casteel, Andrew J. Sarkin, Salvatore Libretto, A. Rani Elwy, Crystal L. Park, and Erik J. Groessl, November 8, 2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.