When I ask my students why they have decided to start a yoga practice, a large percentage say “I’m stressed out!” Indeed, relieving stress is one of the major benefits of a consistent yoga practice. Yoga can help alleviate stress by helping cultivate a deeper sense of awareness of one’s body and emotions. Through a discipline of inner attention, movement, breath work and relaxation an individual is better able to deal with stressful situations, relax more deeply and sleep more soundly.
Even with the huge technological and medical advances that have been made in recent history, modern life is more stressful than ever before. Juggling busy work schedules, children, and home life, little time is left for much else. Yet, in order to manage our hectic lifestyles effectively it is eimportant to take time for ourselves.
Yoga is not a miracle cure that can totally alleviate stress from one’s life but it can help. Asanas (movements) can help to improve blood flow to the cells of the body and revitalize nerve cells which strengthen the nervous system. Stress and tnsion is stored in our bodies and can display itself through tight hips, sore neck and shoulders and pain in the lower back. The asanas allow one’s muscles to release helping to relax our mind. Your body feels lighter and more buoyant giving you more energy and stamina.
The quality of our breath is a direct reflection of the state of our mind. Have you ever been told “calm down and take a breath?” When we are anxious, upset, nervous or angry our breath can become short and rapid or we may stop breathing all together. A relaxed breath makes for a relaxed mind. Full, deep rhythmic breathing can help to change your life!
Try this: Sit with a relaxed posture that allows your spine to be straight and tall. Breathe in through the nose to the slow count of 4-6, pause for 2 counts and exhale through the nose to the slow count of 6-8. Focus on the exhalation, releasing stress and tension with the breath. Relax and breathe. And try a yoga class. It can help you face the turmoil of life with a sense of stability, steadiness and ease.