Stress can have both positive and negative impacts on our well-being and our health. Good stress, which is under control, helps us to be alert, sharpens our mind, and allows us to achieve greater success in both physical and cerebral activities. You'll often hear sports champions talk about their pulse-quickening before scoring the winning point, goal, run or touchdown.
You also have people whose levels of motivation rise when they are challenged to achieve a promotion at work or to pass an important exam.
Another type of good stress is known as acute stress and this occurs in those instances where we have to react quickly to a stimulus, some of which can be dangerous. This could be grabbing your child before they run out into the road or steering quickly out of the way to avoid an on an oncoming car.
This stress is good in the sense that it quickens our reflexes and allows us to react fast, however, it is important that after such events our stress levels recede, to what is known as homeostasis, which is our normal relaxed state.
If they don't and our stress levels remain high, or we are continually feeling stressed about our job, our relationships, or our finances, for example, this can turn into chronic stress, which is a condition that brings lots of other problems into the mix.
Using Yoga to Relieve Stress
If you suffer from chronic stress it is likely you may have tried several different ways to relieve it. These could include hypnosis, counselling, herbal medicine, homeopathy, group therapy or prescription medication. We are not here to dismiss any of them as each of them has worked for individuals, either on their own or in combination with something else.
Yoga is something that will complement all of these in relieving stress, and there are also many who practice yoga who confirm that it has helped reduce their stress without the need for anything else. It goes without saying though that whatever you choose to try and relieve your stress always discuss it with your health professional first. This is to cover the unlikely circumstance that something may prevent you from using any of them, such as some other medical condition.
In almost all cases yoga should be a safe and natural way for you to relieve stress. If you have never done yoga before it can seem more complicated than it is especially with some of the terminology coming from other languages. One of the favorite ways for beginners to get started is to follow a yoga program at home, especially if the idea of enrolling in a local yoga class seems daunting.
One such program is called 'Yoga Burn Challenge,' which has been created by Zoe Bray-Cotton. Zoe has experience as a personal trainer and is a certified yoga instructor so you can be sure what she teaches is entirely valid. For beginners, there is a foundation phase which helps you create a strong mind-body connection which is one of the key principles in using yoga to relieve stress.
How Yoga Relieves Stress Through Your Physical Body
One of the great benefits of practicing yoga is the benefits it provides impact positively on both your mental and your physical condition. Going a stage further, these benefits cross over, so improvements in your physical health impact positively on your mental state, and having a healthy mind, goes a long way to ensuring your body is as healthy as it should be.
If we start with yoga's impact on your physical body, many of the poses and yoga sessions which you will undertake, focus on movements that stretch your muscles, improve your flexibility, promote weight loss and re-energize your entire body. Part of the physical aspect of yoga is that it also promotes enhanced cardio circulation and most importantly, control of your breathing.
The control of your breathing as by inhaling and exhaling through your nose, at a rate which you control is a key pillar of yoga. The fact that you are breathing through your nose filters the air, so it is fresher and cleaner when it reaches your lungs. The control of your breath although a physical act, also has huge benefits for your mental well-being too, and that includes keeping your stress levels lower.
With your body in a state of physical relaxation, your heartbeat slowed, and your gentle breathing under control, the combination of these can have no other result than reducing any stress you are feeling.
Now. if you are just starting to practice yoga, the effect may not last long beyond your yoga session, but it is a step in that direction. With each session where you place your physical body into that relaxed state, you are in effect teaching it, and you, how to do so.
How Yoga Relieves Stress Through Your Mind
One of the aspects of yoga that is most misunderstood is how it can help the mind to relax, and thus reduce stress levels. After all we cannot 'see' our mind, so anyone who has never experienced or taken part in yoga may make a judgment based purely seeing others practicing yoga, and thus assume it is a purely physical activity. The truth is, as we are going to explore further, practicing yoga has a huge role to play in helping our mind.
There are many aspects to how the mind is positively impacted by yoga, with many studies producing highly credible evidence that it can alleviate many mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and of course, stress.
One of the primary reasons for these occurring is that in many yoga poses we are told to focus on the present moment as we stand, sit or lie in stillness and in complete relaxation. With practice, we can soon be in that moment anytime we wish, so that any regrets about the past don't exist, and worries about the future do not exist either. With nothing to think about, or more importantly, worry about, other than 'now,' our stress and anxiety levels recede.
If you are a beginner, you might be feeling excited about getting started on your journey to better mental and physical health, and especially about lowering your stress levels, but are maybe unsure how to take the first step. It could be you are 'stressed' about going to yoga club, or class, where you do not know anyone, or you feel intimated by all the experienced members who'll be there.
If so, then you are best to start off by following a yoga program at home. One of the top ones is 'Yoga Burn Challenge,' which has over 12 hours of instruction, advice, and yoga practices that you can go through at your own pace, and in the privacy of your own home.
The program is sequential so it starts at foundation level and takes you through to mastery level by which time you will be as proficient as anyone at your local yoga group.