Breathe: Ways Yoga can Reduce Stress
Stress is pretty much woven into the fabric of our reality. There's always something that needs attending to; an argument with a friend, a work deadline, a mountain of bills, or even happy events like getting married or getting ready to have a baby. Even when you're not physically active, your mind is constantly active; racing from thought to thought, planning the future, dwelling on the past etc. This constant activity can spin us into a web of stress and anxiety and its takes a massive toll on us physically, mentally, and emotionally.
While a little stress is ok, and even beneficial, chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body. It can suppress your immune system, upset your digestive and reproductive systems, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. It can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
Yoga is an ancient mind-body practice and is considered one of many types of complementary and integrative health approaches. Yoga brings together physical and mental disciplines that may help you achieve peacefulness of body and mind. This can help you relax and manage stress and anxiety.
3 Ways Yoga Can Help You Reduce Stress
1. Exercise: One of the ways Yoga helps to relieve stress is through physical activity. Engaging the body in any form of exercise increases your overall health and your sense of well-being. This puts more pep in your step every day, as it helps with the production of your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. The first step to stress relief is de-stressing the body. Hatha Yoga is the physical practice of yoga postures. There are many different types of Hatha yoga: some are slow and more focused on stretching, others are fast and more of a workout. Check out our class descriptions and to find a style that works for you. Yoga relieves stress through stretching, when you are stressed, tension is stored in the body making you feel tight and often causing pain. The intense stretching of yoga releases tension from the body and when your body is tension free, your mind follows suit.
2. Breath Control: Breath, an involuntary and essential part of keeping the mind and body in check (and alive). When you're in any kind of the stressful situation the first thing that gets affected is your breath. Your breath is a powerful tool that can help ease stress and make you feel less anxious. Pranayama, or breath work, is an important part of any yoga practice and one that translates well to life off the mat. Stress and tension can cause us to breathe in a rapid, shallow way, which can lead to more anxiety. Yoga gives you the opportunity to breathe more effectively, using the diaphragm and utilising the whole lung capacity.
3. Mindful Meditation: The goal of mindful meditation is to focus your attention on the things that are happening right now in the present moment. The idea is to monitor the experience without trying to change it. Meditation of this form helps to relieve stress because you're not worrying about the past or the future, simply taking the present for what it is. You don't need any special tools or equipment to practice this meditation. You just sit or lie in a comfortable position and when you become aware that your thoughts are wandering, simply focus again on the present moment, one way to do this is by paying attention to your breath or the physical sensations in your body. Over time and with repeated practice, you start to develop new habits towards a more relaxed internal state.
Our classes incorporate all three of these important stress relieving practices. These practices encourage us to exist in the present moment and to live in a more mindful, conscious and connected way. This in turn allows us to learn how to reduce the impact stressful situations have on us and helps us to live a happier and healthier life!!