As we have talked about here previously, exercise is a great way to achieve reduction of stress levels and promote overall well-being. Did you know that yoga, with it’s combination of mind and body exercises is considered to be one of the best exercises to promote stress reduction?
Studies from the Mayo Clinic show that the combination of physical and mental disciplines brought together by yoga brings about a physical peace and helps to relax the body so that it is better able to cope with stress.
One of the great things about yoga is that it has many styles and levels of intensity, so almost anyone can do it. If you are a beginner and looking to manage stress levels, Hatha yoga (one of the most common styles) may be a good choice with its’ slower pace and easier movements. As with other styles, it is all about performing a series of poses designed to increase strength and flexibility, while simultaneously controlling your breathing.
There are a number of health benefits that have been associated with yoga, including stress reduction. Yoga contributes to enhancement of mood and overall sense of wellbeing, improves fitness and has been linked to a reduction in risk factors for chronic conditions such as heart disease and high blood pressure. An improvement in your overall health has the bonus effect of also reducing any health-related stress or anxiety.
According to ancient tradition, there is a strong correlation between our breathing patterns and our state of mind. Ever been told to take a deep breath when feeling stressed out? It has been found that when we are stressed, we often take shallow, rapid breaths. Yoga promotes awareness and control over breathing, inhaling through the nose rather than the mouth. Yoga practitioners often advocate a simple breathing technique for stress reduction which involves lengthening the exhalation relative to the inhalation. This is said to engage the parasympathetic nervous system which decreases the ‘fight or flight’ response.
Below is a video, demonstrating yoga exercises which you can use to help reduce stress. Enjoy!