Last week we looked at de-stressing with yoga and here we continue to explore the benefits of yoga when it comes to unwinding. This is a serious concern, as stress is one of the world’s biggest killers and affects millions of people across the globe. Whether it is modern-day stresses or more personal challenges such as work and home life, it’s vital to redress the balance and be aware of how anxiety issues and pressure can seriously impact your quality of life and ultimately your health.
The very nature of yoga, and how this practice interacts with you on a physical, mental and emotional level, drives this internal de-stressing. This release can in turn be expressed in every aspect of your life, whether that be in formulating a healthy sense-of-self, or fostering better relationships, and generally feeling better about life.
Last week, we looked at several stress busting benefits of yoga, which were that it forces you to switch off from outside stimuli; reduces cortisol levels; is non-competitive; has a gentle, soothing effect; gives you some space; can improve your mood; and promotes a feeling of acceptance, both of yourself and others.
If you needed any extra convincing of how yoga can help reduce stress levels, then here are more:
- Releases you from past and future anxieties: By concentrating on correct postures and centering the mind on what you are doing, you are consciously bringing your thoughts and focus to the present moment. In so doing, you are no longer worrying about what you did in the past, or did not do, or fretting about what may or may not happen in the future.
- Stimulates the body to relax: By focusing on your breathing alongside movements which stretch and energize the body, you stimulate relaxation through the parasympathetic nervous system. In other words, yoga intrinsically sends a message to the body to unwind.
- Activates the body to revitalize: Stress can be draining and if you are carrying the extra burden of anxiety then you will soon begin to feel fatigued and weak. As well as relaxing your body, yoga activates it too. In many ways this is one and the same thing. Deep breathing, which is an important part of any yoga practice, gets your heart pumping and your blood flowing, as well as boosting your lymphatic and immune system.
- Aids sleep: It’s not just anecdotal, researchers have found that yoga practice not only helps you get to sleep but that the quantity and quality of your sleeptime improves too. By making you feel relaxed you fall into a restful sleep more easily. In turn, a good night’s sleep is a great antidote to stress.
- Releases tension from muscles: We don’t just feel stressed in our thoughts and actions, we feel anxiety in our bodies. Tight muscles and painful knots can be a physical manifestation of your stress, whether this is the stress you are putting on your body or the stress you are feeling. Stretching and strengthening releases this tension for a greater energy flow.
- Creates a relaxing environment: What many people love about yoga is that the movements and the general yoga atmosphere instil a feeling of peace and harmony. It is not frenetic or fully-charged; it is not about flexing your muscles or great displays of physical fitness. The allure of yoga is its gentle vibe which belies the fact that it is actually a strong and dynamic way to keep in shape.
- Creates a personal journey to deeper connection: Even if you are working out with other people, yoga is about your individual fitness and your own path. This focus, coupled with the way that yoga balances and integrates your whole being, creates a connection between your mind and body. This can have a transformative impact not only on your stress levels but also on who you are and even how you see the world.
Feeling stressed? Relax with some exercise that will get you in shape and feeling great.