Yoga for stress relief is gaining popularity among numerous directions today. This practice does not take a lot of effort and time, but as a result of classes, the state of harmony and peace replaces the usual fatigue and depression for many people.
And this turns out to be more important than getting a beautiful muscle relief or losing extra pounds. Let’s understand what yoga against stress is, and how it affects the body.
Modern man lives in a constant, in fact, round-the-clock stress. In the morning you turn on the TV and immerse yourself in negative news. You drive to work and get stuck in traffic. Or you jostle in rush hour traffic on public transportation. And at work you are waiting for a whole range of problems, on the occurrence and solution of which you can not influence.
And at night you do not rest: even if you managed to lie down early, behind the wall does not rattle perforator, and not crying child, all the same accumulated emotions for the day will not allow the body to fully recover. And this is without taking into account personal, not always cloudless, relationships, problems with children, parents, health.
Every day the body releases stress hormones – the very hormones that cause the body to react to struggle, confrontation or flight. Your heartbeat and breathing speed up, your muscles tense up and ready for action.
This response was designed to protect the body in an emergency situation, if you need to act quickly and clearly. But when this response continues to be triggered day after day, it can put your health at serious risk.
Stress: causes and effects
How do you know if you’re stressed? Pay attention to these symptoms:
- frequent colds,
- panic attacks,
- chronic fatigue,
- high blood sugar,
- increased blood pressure,
- reproductive and cardiovascular problems,
- muscle cramps.
Appearance also suffers: early graying, hair loss, acne, wrinkles. Modern man suffers serious losses from stress!
Doctors and psychologists try to take control of the situation and develop various stress management strategies. But, as practice shows, they do not solve the problems. On the contrary, global statistics show an increase in the number of people living in constant stress and depression. Against the background of an unfavorable picture there is a way out – yoga from stress.
Especially since many people have already felt the positive effects of yoga. But to defeat stress, you need not occasional classes, but regular and versatile practice, which will literally be woven into your daily life.
Yoga against stress
Yoga has a wide variety of practices, styles and trends. How to choose the one that will relieve stress, help stabilize the emotional background and lead to harmony?
First of all, emphasize working with the physical body. By loosening muscles and joints on the mat, working with blocks and clamps, you improve your overall health, normalize hormones and improve the flow of energy. You can work through the physical body at hatha yoga, vinyasa flow yoga, ashtanga vinyasa yoga, Iyengar yoga and a number of other yoga classes.
Yoga for relaxation, fatigue and stress relief is always an individual approach to the loads. Therefore, do not strive to immediately get to an advanced class or perform complex asanas. Otherwise, you can get injured, which will only aggravate the stressful state. Approach the practice reasonably and do not forget about the principle of ahimsa (non-violence) in relation to your body.
For successful practice in different schools of yoga, it is recommended to first learn the principles of yama and niyama, and then move on to performing asanas. In any case, even the simplest practice for beginners, consisting of basic asanas, can relieve fatigue and stress.
If hatha yoga will be based on the principles of eight-step yoga, such practice will benefit not only you personally, but also the world around you.
The physiological effects of yoga on the body and mind
One of the most common misconceptions about yoga is that yoga is just another form of exercise. In reality, the benefits of yoga go beyond the physical body. Thanks to modern technology, we can see how regular practice affects the brain by increasing gray matter density. How does this happen?
Our brain is basically made up of two types of tissue: 60% white matter and 40% gray matter. Both play an important role in carrying out cognitive activities, however, each tissue type has different functions.
Gray matter is made up of brain cells, or neurons. It is responsible for learning abilities, memory, vision, hearing, smell, and touch. It influences muscle control and self-awareness. White matter is the compounds whose job is to connect parts of the brain, allowing different areas to send and receive signals.
In other words, white matter allows the brain to coordinate thoughts and movements. Both gray and white matter complement each other, allowing you to think, coordinate movements, and interpret the world around you.
Studies based on structural brain scans have shown that a person’s overall intelligence and quality of mental performance is related to gray matter volume. Yoga, which involves the constant practice of body control, breathing, and concentration, results in increased gray matter density and activation in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex.
Yoga for relaxation and stress relief works by causing the activity of certain parts of the brain to slow down to rest during exercise.
This function helps to relieve stress, which is localized in two main areas of the brain, the frontal and parietal regions.
When you feel stressed or are in anxious anticipation, the body produces the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which increase your heart rate and blood pressure. Yoga helps reduce stress hormones.
Even a 15-minute daily practice has tangible benefits and can prevent serious conditions such as depression and heart disease.
Yoga exercises for stress relief
What are the yoga poses that help relieve stress? First of all, those that soothe the adrenal cortex and have a beneficial effect on the nervous system. Among them are forward bends in different variations, light twists, balances and relaxation asanas.
Garudasana (eagle pose) – its anti-stress effect lies in the balance and in the resetting of the circulatory system, which occurs by twisting the limbs and further relaxation. Garudasana requires deep concentration, so it is difficult for the body and mind to do anything else but focus on the present moment.
Begin performing Garudasana from Tadasana. Slowly raise your right leg and cross it over your left leg. Then cross your left arm with your right arm and start bending your elbows, bringing the back of your hands together. Garudasana can always be deepened by twisting your arms and legs deeper. Find that position where you can maintain your balance and breath.
Not only is this pose good for stress relief, it helps to open and stretch the shoulders and hips, which are the areas of the body that are most affected by emotions and worries. Do Garudasana on both sides. Stay on each side for at least 5-7 breaths.
Uttanasana (stretch pose) is a forward bend. Yoga for beginners under stress rarely does without this asana, which can be performed in different variations.
Start with deep breathing. Then slowly, while continuing to breathe, go into an incline. When your head goes below the level of your heart, your heartbeat will slow down and your mind will begin to calm down.
The arms hang loosely along the body or you can do an elbow grip. Uttanasana is one of the best poses that can quickly bring you out of an acute stress response. Stay in the asana for up to 10 deep breaths.
Pashchimottanasana (posterior extension pose) is a variation of forward bend from a sitting position. Sit on a mat, extend your legs and lift your feet up. Raise your arms up and, while maintaining the extension, gently lower your body to your feet.
It is important not to round your back, but to keep it straight, which will maximize the extension of the spine from the sacrum. If the stomach and chest can not yet be placed on the hips, you can bend your legs at the knees. Stay in asana for 10-15 breaths.
Marjariasana (cat pose) is a short dynamic sequence in which the body moves from a downward spine position to an upward position. Marjariasana gives relief to the spine and all the muscles of the back and helps stabilize the breath during the movement, which calms the mind.
To perform Marjariasana, kneel down and rest your hands on the mat. Your palms should be placed under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. As you inhale, push your chest forward and lift your head up.
The back in this position will be in flexion. Keep your abdomen engaged. As you exhale, lift the upper, middle and lower spine and begin to pull the top of your head toward the floor. Move in a flow, arching and rounding your back.
Balasana (child’s pose) is one of the best asanas to bring relaxation and peace. A big plus of Balasana is that it requires no special adjustments and is accessible to those taking their first steps in yoga.
Sit on your heels and lean forward with your body on your hips. Bring your arms back if you want to achieve complete relaxation of the back muscles. As you extend your arms forward, your back will also be in a stretched position.
The head in Balasana is placed on the mat, but if you have a headache you can place a rolled up blanket or block under the head to keep it from sinking too low.
Breathing and pranayama for stress
Relaxing yoga from stress is not limited to the practice of asanas. Come to a state of harmony will help pranayama – breathing exercises that help regulate the flow of prana.
Chandra bhedana pranayama
To work with stress, you can practice Chandra bhedana pranayama. This is breathing through the left nostril that energizes the left, lunar, channel, which is responsible for our calmness and poise.
Sit in a comfortable position with crossed legs. Put your left hand on your knee. Fold the fingers of your right hand into a nasikagra mudra. Inhale through the left nostril and exhale through the right nostril. At first the inhalation and exhalation can be equal. Then the exhalation can be lengthened to have more effect on the parasympathetic system.
Anuloma viloma pranayama
Another pranayama that will help you always stay in balance is anuloma-viloma pranayama, or alternate breathing through both nostrils. The principle of this pranayama is to equalize the energy that flows through the pingala nadi (right energy channel) and ida nadi (left energy channel).
The starting position for the body and arms is the same as for chandra bhedana pranayama. Breathing is done through the left and right nostril at equal intervals.
To begin with, take the proportion 4:4 – for 4 counts (seconds) inhale through the left nostril, for 4 counts exhale through the right nostril. Then inhale through the right nostril and exhale through the left nostril. Continue breathing for 5-10 minutes. Gradually you can increase the amplitude of breathing by 1 second.
Yoga is a great tool for relieving stress and tension. Stress takes all our energy, destroys our bodies, and poisons our relationships with the world around us. When we are in semi-panic mode, yoga gives us several tools that we can use singly or all at once.
If there is no time for a full-blown practice or pranayama, you can, after all, just lean forward and relax. But it’s better and more effective to take a holistic approach that includes body work, breath control, and clearing the mind. Yoga is becoming increasingly popular. This means that more and more people are discovering the benefits of this practice, including for finding harmony and peace.