Yoga as a Stress Management Tool

Whatever misconceptions you have about yoga and stress management should take a back seat. While most people have the notion that you must be flexible to do yoga; anyone can benefit from it regardless of their age. Even people who are not flexible see quick results.  In fact, yoga can benefit all ages because it is a practice geared at helping you become aware of the mind/body connection.  

The raves about yoga is more than just a trend.  Although its physical and psychological benefits for stress management have now taken America by storm, yoga is an ancient practice that has been around for centuries. 

When most people think about yoga, they envision a person doing a stand on his head while he twists his foot behind his neck like a human pretzel.  However, there are many styles of yoga that are easier to do.  Hatha yoga is one of the most flowing and gentle options and a good starting point for beginners.  Vinyasa is more athletic while Bikram or “hot” yoga is not recommended for beginners.

The goal of yoga is to synchronize the breath and movement. As you work through the poses, it requires you to inhale and exhale at specific times.  Breathing only through your nose keeps heat in the body and keeps the mind focused. Concentrating on your breath is the key to yoga for stress management, as it helps you let go of external thoughts and anxiety.  The easiest way to bring yourself into the present moment is to focus on your breath.  Your worrying thoughts will disappear as you focus on how air goes down your nose and into your body.

Benefits of Practicing Yoga for Stress Management

Restful sleep

Release things that no longer serve you

Live in the present moment

Decreases stress and tension

Increases strength, balance and flexibility

Lowers blood pressure

Reduces cortisol levels

Regulate your emotions

Yoga is a personal practice and no two people can or should hold a pose in the same manner.  You should work at your own level of flexibility, one that is challenging but not overwhelming.  If you are uncomfortable with what the instructor is telling you to do, don’t do it.  Your body will warn you if you are going to hurt yourself.  It is important that you listen to your body, gently push your limits, and do not allow yourself be overcome by ego.  Allow your body to guide you.

If you would like to learn more about yoga, we offer an On-Demand short course that will teach you about this ancient art.  It comes with an in-depth video lecture and an instructional e-guide.  When you are doing yoga, it is not about doing it better or worse than others. What matters most is how relaxed you can allow yourself to become.

Keep in mind that yoga is a slow process.  Let go of expectations, competition, and judgment. As yoga brings you into the present moment, you will experience joy not only in the physical movement and mental benefits but in spending time in the now.

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