Yoga for Stress
If you want to reduce stress substantially and get the most out of your day, a little yoga is just something the doctor should have always prescribed.
Yoga is a 5000 year-old practice that incorporates philosophy, behaviour, physical exercise, meditation, and breath work. Together, these different factors offer an amazing resource for reducing stress – both physically and psychologically.
In North America, we tend to place a lot of our focus on the physical benefits of yoga. While it’s true that yoga improves flexibility and helps build lean muscle mass, its greatest benefit is something much deeper.
As a result of the meditation and breath work that accompanies yoga, science had documented significant psychological benefits of practicing yoga. This is especially true for reducing stress, including its impact on our physical health. After all, breathing exercises alone are known to have an immediate effect on our physiology – in a good way.
How to Use Yoga for Stress
Using yoga to reduce stress doesn’t mean ignoring the physical benefits. No matter what you use yoga for, you’ll always experience some improvements in flexibility and strength.
But if you’re trying to reduce stress in your life, you can do a number of things differently with your yoga practice that will leave you feeling calmer and more relaxed:
- First, consider starting and ending your day with a little yoga. Sun salutations alone (which can take only 5-10 minutes) can be extremely relaxing, especially if you end with a 5-minute meditation. This is a great way to prepare yourself for the stresses of your day, and it’s also a great way to clear your mind and unwind when you come home.
- Make sure you’re aware of your breathing throughout your yoga exercises. It’s an easy thing to forget, and some ignore it altogether. Make breathing your priority, and feel the tension dissipate.
- Always end your yoga sessions with a meditation. 5-10 minutes of meditating (either in the traditional pose or lying flat on your back with your eyes closed). Studies have shown that this act alone has a huge impact on stress and overall health.
For a list of effective yoga exercises to reduce stress, read my full article on Yoga Exercises to Reduce Stress.
Making Yoga Easy & Stress-Free
Whether you’re using yoga for stress or just physical exercise, it can be a little intimidating at first. If you’re not comfortable with attending yoga classes just yet, consider this Gaiam Yoga for Beginners Kit. It has everything you need to get started, including a yoga mat and instructional DVD.
It’s also a good idea to make a quiet space in which to practice your yoga. Dim the lights, shut the door, and remove any potential sources of noise or interruption. This should help improve your ability to relax.
For other great stress reduction tips and strategies, read my article on Stress & Anxiety Relief. There are a number of easy and simple ways to reduce your daily stress.
Have any questions or feedback about Yoga for Stress? Please leave a comment below…