The Ultimate Guide to Yoga for Stress Relief: Relieve Stress & Reduce Anxiety
Stress is becoming more and more of a problem globally! As people take on more demands, and spend less time on self-care stress can take its toll. But what exactly is stress, and how can you use yoga for stress relief?
Yoga is the perfect practice for managing stress because it addresses stress in three different ways, I’ll fill you in on how to start your yoga for stress relief practice.
1. What is Stress
Stress is our body’s response to the demands that we have to meet. This could be an obstacle that pops up in our lives, challenges, added pressure, or just our day-to-day grind. Our response to that stress can manifest itself as physical, mental, or even emotional symptoms.
It’s important to note that stress is a normal part of our day-to-day lives and that everybody experiences stress to some extent. Not all stress is bad, but too much stress can have a very negative impact on our well-being. So when we start to notice that we’re overly stressed we’ll want to take a step back and look at some management practices.
Stress can be very helpful in some situations. For example, if you were to go mountain biking or rock climbing the stress that you experience in those situations is going to keep you alert, focused on the task at hand, and keep you safe. Also, if you’re given a tight deadline stress in that situation is going to keep you motivated and focused on the task at hand. You’ll hear a lot of people say that they feel they work better under pressure and it’s that little bit of stress that’s pushing them.
When is Stress A Problem
Stress becomes a problem when you’re experiencing stress that’s long-term. Where you are never able to come back to a relaxed state. That’s what you hear referred to as chronic stress. When that happens our sympathetic nervous system, the fight or flight portion of our nervous system never gets a chance to shut down or reset. This causes wear and tear on your body because your body is constantly in a state of fight or flight, and feeling like it’s in danger.
Symptoms of Chronic Stress
You can experience a variety of symptoms when you start to experience chronic stress. Some of the physical signs could include headaches, digestive issues, trouble sleeping, and your immunity might suffer so you might find yourself getting sick more frequently. The mental and emotional symptoms you experience could include anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and irritability. If you start to experience any of these symptoms it’s very important to start thinking about managing your stress and trying to reduce your stress level.
How Do You Manage Stress
When it comes to managing your stress and reducing your stress level, the first place to start is trying to eliminate sources of stress. For example, if yard work is a source of stress you can find a neighbor to help or hire a service, but you’re not always able to eliminate sources of stress. If your stress is coming from a stressful job or stress from family for example eliminating those sources of stress isn’t an option. That’s where management practices like using yoga for stress relief can really help.
2. Yoga for Stress Relief
Using yoga for stress relief is a great idea because it combines a physical practice with controlled breathing and then tops it all off with meditation. These three practices each knock out stress in a different way; physically, physiologically, and mentally.
Yoga Poses for Stress Relief
The physical portion of yoga, also known as asana, is really great for stress because physical activity gets your heart rate up. When you increase your heart rate, work your muscles, and build strength during exercise it actually increases the feel-good hormones that your body releases. Your body will start to release serotonin, that’s one of those happy hormones. The physical practice of yoga also acts as a moving meditation. While you’re moving through each asana you can’t focus on what you’re stressed about, you really have to be mindful of each movement.
Physical exercise also reduces the negative effects of stress on your body. When you’re taking care of your body and exercising you will gain cardiovascular benefits, increase strength, increase flexibility, boost your digestion, and you’re going to help your immune system. All of these benefits are going to help counteract the negative effects of stress.
Breathwork and Pranayama
Yoga also uses controlled breathing. When you control your breath, slow the breath down, and breathe deeply and purposefully that activates your parasympathetic nervous system. That’s the rest and relax and digest part of our nervous system which is literally the polar opposite of the stress part of our nervous system. Activating our parasympathetic nervous system helps to snap your body out of that fight-or-flight response caused by chronic stress.
Meditation and Mindfulness
The last portion of our practice that makes using yoga for stress relief a perfect fit is meditation. Meditation again increases our mindfulness. With time and practice, meditation allows us to become more objective about the things that stress us out. We can more easily handle those things mentally, and we can learn to take a step back and gain more perspective. Long-term using yoga for stress relief makes us more resilient in the long run.
Learn More About Yoga
Using yoga for stress relief is a perfect approach for stress management because it takes a three-pronged approach and really tackles stress from a physical mental and emotional standpoint. I have yoga videos on my YouTube channel for stress, anxiety, and relaxation here>>. If you are new to yoga and aren’t sure how to start your yoga practice I have a blog post that has all the information you need here>>.
If you have any questions feel free to drop them in the comments below.