Yoga For Stress Relief
Dating back over 5000 years, yoga is considered by many to be the oldest defined practice of self-development.
Many studies have found that a little yoga in the morning, at night, or even on a lunch break, can minimise stress and increase productivity.
It is believed that yoga is extremely effective for stress relief because, aside from the physical benefits yoga brings, it encourages a good mood (YAY for happy savasana vibes), increases mindfulness, and is a healthy dose of self-compassion.
Prolonged stress takes its toll physically, emotionally and mentally and can affect everything from sleep, digestion and our relationships.
Yoga practiced in the right way can be as soothing as a hug when it comes to reducing tension and relaxing the body.
Certain postures have a deeply calming effect on the whole system, especially forward folding poses. Restorative and Yin yoga are great styles for practicing the art of letting go, as is savasana/relaxation at the end of the yoga class.
Yoga emphasises breathing and a focus on the mind/body/spirit connection, which yields strong emotional benefits. People who practice yoga regularly report that they sleep better and feel less stressed.
When we are stressed out or anxious, the mind becomes busy. Learning to focus the mind on one thing at a time may seem like the most difficult thing in the world, however with practice, it becomes easier.
Meditation is an amazing tool to help cope with stress and anxiety as it is the practice of becoming aware of the breath. Whether you are holding postures, flowing through sequences, or in a seated meditation pose, everything begins to focus and slow down when you begin to become aware of the breath.
What yoga poses help with stress? Here are four beginner friendly poses that can help ease stress:
Reclined Butterfly pose: This pose is extremely relaxing and perfect to do before you go to sleep as it settles the mind and helps you unwind.
Lie on your back with the soles of your feet touching one another. You can keep your arms by your side or stretch your hands above your head, whatever feels best.
Legs up the wall pose: This pose reverses the blood flow, increases lymphatic circulation, and nourishes the heart and mind.
Bring your mat over to the wall and lie on your back. With your bottom up against the wall, stretch your legs upward toward the sky and rest them against the wall. Arms can be out to your sides or hands can rest on your belly.
Cat-Cow pose: This pose works with the spine to calm the nervous system and induce a relaxation response.
Come to your hands and knees, with wrists beneath the shoulders and knees beneath the hips. As you inhale, drop the belly toward the floor, raise the tailbone, and bring your shoulders back. As you exhale, reverse the movement, sending the tailbone towards the earth, rounding the lower back then upper back, and releasing the back of the neck so the crown of the head is pointing toward the earth.
Restorative Child’s Pose: This pose supports the heart and opens up the body creating a sense of comfort and release
Sit back on your heels with knees outstretched to about the width of your mat. Bring a bolster, pillow or folded blanket to touch the inside of both knees, positioned vertically out in front of you. Stretch your arms overhead and fold forward over your bolster, allowing your torso to rest on your prop. Your head can be turned to one side. Rest your hands on either side of your bolster or prop.
The best part about yoga is that it helps you discover more about your mind, body and emotions. Yoga can help you become more balanced, calm, focused, and relaxed as you go through life’s usual ups and downs. Practicing yoga regularly will help the practice become a natural part of your daily routine, ready to help you manage life’s stresses well into the future.