Stress is the norm in this day and age. Whether related to work or to your personal life, it’s sometimes hard to escape the stress of the everyday. It has found to be problematic for mental and physical health, which is why it’s necessary to change your response.
Yoga is one method that actually helps combat your response to stress. Combining meditation, relaxation, and gentle body movement, yoga is the perfect antidote to stress. Studies have actually shown that practicing yoga can help you control your heart rate, which is one way to change the way your body handles stressors.
So how can yoga reduce stress? We’ll explore.
Research has shown that many yoga practices can reduce the impact of stress on your body. This can be helpful for both anxiety and depression. By changing the way your body reacts to stress, you can learn to respond to it in more healthy ways. Yoga can help you learn to reduce your heart rate, lower blood pressure, and relax your breathing. Learning how to do those three things allows you to calm yourself down in anxiety-producing situations.
One study, done at the University of Utah, looked at yoga practitioners’ response to pain. This study found that yoga practitioners had higher pain tolerances than healthy subjects and those with fibromyalgia—widespread muscle pain. The yoga practitioners also had lower pain-related brain activity, found in an MRI. This shows that yoga can regulate pain responses, which is a great indication of stress response as well.
Certain yoga practices—like Yin yoga—are wonderful at helping participants ease into relaxation. Some poses, like forward folds and inversions, can calm the entire body, which is helpful in alleviating your body’s stress response. Even in more physically intense yoga sessions, most end in shavasana, which gives you a chance to let it all go.
Ask any therapist—the anecdote to stress and anxiety is being in the present moment. Usually, if you can focus on what is happening right now, stress can leave the body. Luckily, with practice you can become better at staying in the here and now. Yoga is a great way to practice. From holding poses, flowing through sequences, or focusing on your breath during meditation, you can learn to stay right here.
The body’s response to stress is often fast, shallow breathing. Often, just changing the way you breathe can lead to a better response to stress. Yoga is one way to do just that. Pranayama, yoga practice of breath, is a useful way to learn to control your breathing. Nadi shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing, is another practice that can lead to a better understanding of how to use all of your lungs.
We’ll see you on the mat!