Do you feel like your life is a constant race and it’s hard to stop and take a breath? Between phones ringing, bosses screaming, and kids whining, it can be difficult to find a quiet moment. If you’re experiencing a particularly stressful time in your life, exercise can help you relax and drain some of the stress away. Yoga, in particular, is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety. Yoga expert Bella Singh said practicing yoga is a useful tool for staying healthy. “To lead a content life and to be a successful being, it is important that the mind and body be unified. Time, or lack thereof, is always a factor in our busy lives, but the most important thing we can do for ourselves is to devote time to focusing on our health. Keeping our mind, body, and spirit healthy will positively affect every aspect of our lives … Yoga is an ancient system of exercise designed to boost health from within,” said Singh. Here are three ways yoga can help with stress relief.
1. It helps you focus on controlled breathing
Yoga can help you feel less stressed by aiding with breathing. Yoga incorporates breathing exercises that are helpful with quieting your mind and restoring normal breathing patterns. These breathing exercises are particularly helpful if you feel like you are about to have a panic attack. The American Yoga Association says The Complete Breath Technique is a good method for handling stressful situations. “The Complete Breath technique is a must for anyone who often feels ‘stressed out.’ Once learned, the Complete Breath can be used anywhere, anytime, to reduce the severity of a panic attack, to calm the mind, or to cope with a difficult situation. Learning to concentrate simply on the sound of the breath as you inhale and exhale evenly and smoothly will help you gently but effectively switch your attention from feelings of anxiety to feelings of relaxation,” said the Association.
2. It lowers cortisol levels
Cortisol is produced by the body when you’re faced with stressful situations. This stress hormone is reduced during high-pressure situations in people who regularly practice yoga, according to Yoga Alliance. “The practice of yoga is well-demonstrated to reduce the physical effects of stress on the body. The body responds to stress through a fight-or-flight response, which is a combination of the sympathetic nervous system and hormonal pathways activating, releasing cortisol — the stress hormone — from the adrenal glands. Cortisol is often used to measure the stress response. Yoga practice has been demonstrated to reduce the levels of cortisol. Most yoga classes end with savasana, a relaxation pose, which further reduces the experience of stress,” said the Alliance.
3. It lowers blood pressure
Yoga is also beneficial for your cardiovascular health. Consistent yoga practice has been found to lower blood pressure levels, according to researchers at Harvard Medical School. “By reducing perceived stress and anxiety, yoga appears to modulate stress response systems. This, in turn, decreases physiological arousal — for example, reducing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and easing respiration. There is also evidence that yoga practices help increase heart rate variability, an indicator of the body’s ability to respond to stress more flexibly,” said Harvard researchers.
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