Yoga and Stress

Written by Viki Ackland.

I went through a pretty rough break-up a few months back, the rough part being it was totally unexpected, and the events that transpired immediately after what seemed like a stupid fight led us to being officially apart, and our demise. It was difficult to except for many reasons, and the first two weeks I wallowed around on the verge of tears constantly.


Then I pulled myself up and started to get back into MY yoga again, not the painful stretching someone convinced me to do, with no experience in such things himself, but the yoga that I had been doing for years, the yoga that made me feel limber and youthful, the yoga that calmed my mind. And it did. It took me away from all the self pity, the obsessive thinking and the over analyzing.

I am sure any good workout could achieve this to some effect, although something high impact would to me be a way to channel anger and negativity, whereas yoga offers a balance that so many of us need in life.

Yoga, which derives its name from the word, 'yoke'-to bring together-brings together the mind, body and spirit. But whether you use yoga for spiritual transformation or for stress management and physical well-being, the benefits are numerous.

Yoga helps you sleep, reduces stress, and gives you a sense of well being, reduced anxiety and muscle tension, lower heart rate not to mention spiritual growth.

As yoga combines several techniques used for stress reduction, it can be said to provide the combined benefits of breathing exercises, stretching exercises, fitness programs, meditation practice, and guided imagery, in one technique. Like a work out and meditation combined, which not only is good for the body, but the mind. Quieting the mind, so that you are not always in the moment that is causing negative feelings.

One of the ancient yogis' most profound insights was the link between breathing patterns and state of mind. Shallow, rapid breaths, the way many people breathe most of the time, can, from a yogic perspective, be both a cause and a result of stress. Think of how you breathe if you are startled, with a quick inhalation primarily to the upper lungs. Physiologically, habitual rapid chest-breathing is a bit like getting startled thousands of times per day.

The yogic remedy is to slow the breath down, contributing to a calmer mind. The first couple times I practiced after taking some time off I found myself still wanting to not breath and not feel in the moment, my mind wandering to my pain and situation, but after time I have become more focused again. Life goes on.

Certainly not everyone that is stressed out, or anxious, or needing some form of exercise can jump right into yoga classes. They can be expensive and there is the awkwardness of going to a yoga studio, but there are plenty of DVD's you can purchase to start your on your path to discovering whether or not yoga is the work out for you.

I am certainly not in a perfect place yet, but pretty close to it.


10 Yoga Poses for Stress
VIDEO - Most people complain of feeling stressed by the pressures of life. Yoga can calm your nervous system and relax your mind, which is needed to repair and heal the physiological effects of stress.

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