- January 9, 2019
- Posted by: Stephen Coleclough
- Category: Yoga
Yoga is a transformative practice that can help you achieve peacefulness of the mind and body.
There are many health benefits that can be obtained through regular yoga practice, but one of the best is stress reduction.
By reducing your stress levels, you can avoid a variety of chronic health problems and improve your overall quality of life.
If you are suffering from stress and want to harness the power of yoga to deal with it, you have reached the right place.
This article will identify the symptoms of stress and explain how yoga successfully relieves stress.
We’ll also share several yoga poses that will reduce the impact of stress on your health.
Why do we experience stress?
Stress is the human body’s natural response to potentially dangerous situations.
When confronted with a challenging situation, the body releases hormones which activate the fight-or-flight response.
This is the body’s way of helping you deal with the situation, by putting you into a physical and mental state ideal for survival.
The hormones that are released to kick start the fight-or-flight response include cortisol, adrenaline, epinephrine, and noradrenaline.
They will trigger a variety of cascading physiological changes in the body including a heightened mental alertness, the release of glucose into the bloodstream for energy, tense muscles, increased blood pressure and faster breathing.
Stress hormones will also de-prioritise certain bodily functions like the digestion of food.
Experiencing stress can be very useful if you spot a lion on the Serengeti and need to run for your life or if you are rushing to meet a work deadline.
It provides you with additional energy, strength, and mental focus.
However, chronic stress that occurs every day can become unhealthy.
If you are constantly in a stressed state, you will always feel like you are in a fight-or-flight situation, with tense muscles, a heightened state of alertness and high blood glucose levels.
Constantly being in this state can lead to a wide variety of health problems including:
- Poor immune system function
- Digestive problem
- Anxiety and depression
- Cognitive distress
- Painful muscles
- Heart disease
Why is yoga so effective at reducing stress?
Researchers have discovered that yoga reduces stress in a number of ways, including:
Yoga reduces the levels of stress hormones in the body
Multiple studies have concluded that yoga reduces stress by lowering the levels of cortisol and adrenaline within the body.
Lowering these hormones quickly reduces the severity of the stress response — helping you to relax and feel at peace.
Yoga affects the parasympathetic nervous system
The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for regulating a range of bodily functions including salivation, urination, sexual arousal, digestion, and defecation.
If you are experiencing chronic stress, the parasympathetic nervous system is usually overworked and not regulating the body effectively.
This can sometimes cause a negative feedback loop where even more cortisol is produced, further elevating the stress response.
Restorative yoga has been proven to help the parasympathetic nervous system function more effectively.
This will decrease some of the symptoms of stress including elevated heart rate, high blood pressure, and poor digestion.
Yoga can clear your mind of negative thoughts
To practice yoga, you must focus your mind on your body.
During this time, you won’t be thinking about any repetitive negative thoughts that may be causing you to become stressed.
You will simple be focussed on your breathing and how your body feels.
The best yoga poses for stress reduction
Here are five yoga poses that are very effective for reducing stress.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
I always find that this wonderful pose evokes feelings of calmness and serenity.
It soothes the mind and can relieve any feelings of stress or anxiety that you may be experiencing.
It is also useful for relieving back pain while providing a gentle stretch for the hips, thighs and ankles.
To perform child’s pose:
- Start by kneeling on the floor with your knees hip-width apart.
- As you exhale, lay your torso between your thighs as you sink your buttocks towards the heels. Lay your hands on the floor palm down in front of you as you rest your forehead on the floor.
- Hold this position for as long as you like. Focus on your breathe and remaining as relaxed as possible.
Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
This is a very common pose that is usually performed as a part of the sun salutation.
It is a deeply calming pose that relieves stress, anxiety, and fatigue.
It also increase blood flow to the brain, which can be quite invigorating and refreshing.
To perform a Standing Forward Fold:
- Start in a standing position.
- Tuck your chin in and pivoting at the hips to bend forward.
- Once you have bent over as far as you can go, fold your arms, holding onto each elbow with the hand on the opposite arm.
- Relax and breathe.
Reclined Goddess Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
This relaxing pose is a wonderful way to release pent up emotions and surrender to the world.
When performing this pose, it helps to concentrate on opening up your spirit to all of the positive energy surrounding you.
To perform the Reclined Goddess Pose:
- Starting by laying on your back.
- Gradually bring the soles of your feet together while letting your knees spread out to both sides. If this feels a little tight in the hips, move the heels away from the torso.
- Allow your arms to lay comfortably on the ground next to your body, with palms up.
- Breath and relax.
This is another classic pose that most yoga practitioners incorporate into their routines.
In addition to being an excellent way to warm up your spine and abdomen, Cat-Cow can relieve digestive problems and fatigue associated with stress.
To perform Cat-Cow.
- Start on all fours
- As you exhale, round your back, bringing it and your navel towards the ceiling. Look down towards your legs.
- Come back to neutral.
- For Cow Pose, inhale as you tilt your pelvis back. Allow your tailbone to stick up as you draw your navel in and allow your abdominal muscle to hug the spine.
- Come back to neutral and perform again.
Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)
There aren’t many yoga poses as relaxing and rejuvenating as Viparita Karani.
It will help to relieve any feelings of stress and anxiety while simultaneously strengthening your spine and pelvic muscles.
To perform Legs Up The Wall:
- Start by sitting next to a wall with on of your hips touching the wall
- Swing your legs around so they go up the wall as you lean back on your elbows.
- Slowly lay down on your back as you straighten your legs up the wall
- If you find it difficult to fully straighten your legs, that’s ok, leave a slight bend in them
- Relax and breathe
I hope you enjoyed reading Help Relieve Stress With These Yoga Poses.
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