How Does Yoga Reduce Stress?

Have a lot on your plate? Is the man getting you down? Yea, us too. If the amount of stress in your life is starting to get to you, I’m sure you’re thinking that the last thing you have time for is adding a yoga practice.

I think you should reconsider, and here’s why:

Stress reduction is just one of the many benefits of regularly practicing yoga, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Understanding Stress

It is important to understand that stress is not the circumstances in your life–those are actually called stressors. Stress is the word used to describe how your body responds to these stressors. So how does your body respond to a big deadline, your crazy commute or marital strife?

Our nervous system kicks in with what is called a flight-or-fight response and the tell tale signs are things like a rise in blood pressure, quickening pulse, difficulty sleeping, and rapid breathing.

So, now what?

Ideally, the best way to eliminate stress is to eliminate the stressor, right? Unfortunately that is not always possible. You may not be able to control the circumstances bringing stress into your life, but you have a say in how you cope with these stressors. That’s where yoga comes in.

How does yoga reduce stress?

One way yoga helps to relieve stress is through Pranayama, which is a fancy word used to described the practice of controlling your breath. By controlling our breath, we can shut off the fight-or-flight response and flip on it’s antecedent, the rest-and-digest response.  This is where you want to spend the majority of your time as it allows you to conserve energy.

Another way that yoga can reduce stress is through meditation, allowing you to clear your mind of the worries and anxieties of your day.

And you know all that tension you have in your neck and shoulders from stress? Yoga addresses that, too. Something as simple as a tilting your head from shoulder to shoulder or lower your chin to your chest can make a big difference. Ready to try something more? Child’s Pose, Bridge Pose, and Corpse Pose all work to relieve tension in your neck and shoulders.

Lastly, certain poses are more challenging and require greater energy and concentration. Focusing on these challenging poses can expel any hyper energy you may be feeling due to stress and remove your attention off of the circumstances which are responsible for the stress you feel.

Not quite convinced? Please, don’t take our word for it. Give it a try yourself, I think you’ll be glad you did.


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