Physical benefits of yoga are many. They can range from those for the health of our bodies, but most important are the mental health benefits. A great many studies have already found that yoga can actually help reduce anxiety and stress.
Yoga has several ways to help balance our nervous system during practice. In cases of anxiety and stress, our sympathetic nervous system can take over and put us in "fight or flight" mode. Pranayama or yoga breathing practices require us to take more intentional breaths that help us tap into our parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system helps us to calm down, allowing us to enter a state of "rest," so that we feel relaxed and at ease.
Yoga also helps strengthen the mind-body connection. Yoga practice requires being mindful of each movement, often connecting breathing to asanas. Being in tune with the movement of the body can help reduce stress and offer the benefits of greater relaxation and concentration on the present moment. Similarly, finding stillness in the postures can help strengthen the mind-body connection and promote relaxation.This combination can be a powerful tool for reducing anxiety and stress.
TIME FOR SELF-CARE
Carving out time for yoga practice is a great way to take a break in your schedule and create time for self-care. Having regularly scheduled times to slow down and take time for yourself is a tremendous way to reduce stress and cultivate a more mindful lifestyle. A yoga class offers the opportunity to combine exercise and fitness goals with mental health goals, such as stress reduction. Combining movement with meditation and breath work can meet a variety of self-care needs.
Taking a group yoga class also offers the benefit of connecting with a community. Having a community is a great way to feel supported from the stresses of daily life and to manage anxiety and other mental health challenges. The relaxing environment of the studio can also help you feel calmer and more focused in your yoga practice. Being present in person allows you to let the teacher know how you feel and tailor the class to your needs. There are specific poses and breathing exercises that can be included to help with anxiety and stress.
Many popular techniques used to reduce stress are derived from yoga, such as:
- controlled breathing
Yoga combines several techniques used for stress reduction, so it offers the combined benefits of breathing exercises, stretching, fitness programs, meditation practice, and guided imagery in one technique.
For those with physical limitations that might prevent the practice of yoga, simple breathing exercises, meditation or guided imagery might be a preferable option and provide similar benefits.
One can also opt for chair yoga, yin yoga, and restorative yoga, which offer relaxation and movement but are not physically demanding.
How to start enjoying the benefits of yoga
The benefits will be greatest if you practice yoga regularly, so choose a time each day to get on your yoga mat. For people with some physical limitations, chair yoga can be a good option.
If you want to enjoy the benefits of yoga on a budget, you can learn from online courses or video tutorials. In this regard, Yoga with Adrien we have found to be very good.
If you can, however, try taking a class in person. Yoga classes can be great for beginners. You are surrounded by people of all levels of expertise and skill, and you have someone to talk you through the process and help you learn the correct form.