By Faye Martins
Practicing Yoga for stress relief is one way to reduce and prevent anxiety. Developing a personal practice can help people experience the physical and mental benefits. Yoga is a sound method for practicing breathing, mental relaxation techniques, and physical postures for stress relief. The science of Yoga contains many calming benefits. Yoga practitioners experience how to relax, improve cholesterol, higher quality sleep, lower blood pressure, better heart health, and more.
Yoga is a proven method to decrease your stress. It can calm you down and reverse the adverse effects of stress, such as a weakened immune system and increased blood pressure. With that said, plan your Yoga practice and lifestyle around reliable health information to enjoy the maximum benefits. It is wise to consult your physician about any physical activity you participate in, including Yoga practice.
Yoga poses help release physical blockages like muscle knots, which also release emotional tension. In addition, Yoga can help with mood-boosting endorphins, which create a feeling of happiness. Yoga for stress relief is a viable solution when you are overwhelmed. Yoga is a way to reduce stress by making oneself aware of changing physical sensations. You also learn to cultivate positive emotions by focusing on solutions instead of worrying about the quality of life.
Yoga is a fantastic way to improve sleep quality and reduce stress through deep breathing. Pranayama, or breathing exercises, are easy to learn and require moderate practice. In addition to this, the mindful aspect of practicing Yoga will improve your mental processes, which can enhance innovative thought generation and problem-solving skills.
Meditation for Stress Relief
Yoga is a series of mental and physical exercises designed to relieve tension in the body and mind. Yoga classes often include dhyana or meditation that helps us cope with stress and feel inner peace during challenging times. Meditation helps students manage the daily stress in life. Finding a meditation that works well for your students gives them gentle guidance toward relaxing and states of inner calm.
As you can see in the video above, breathing can be a casual part of one’s daily Yoga training session. We practice Yogic breathing (pranayama) for many reasons. Pranayama can be practiced to energize, calm, or relax the body and mind. Yoga can be practiced with classic breathing exercises, such as Nadi Shodhana, Bhramari, or Ujjayi. Traditional pranayama can be practiced, as seen in the Swami Ramdev video below.
Practical Application in Life
You may automatically think practicing awareness and acceptance will cause even more worrying thoughts. However, this can help you have fewer negative thoughts and be less affected by them. You can eliminate negative thoughts or change their pattern with mindfulness techniques like awareness, acceptance, or location (eventually being present in the present experience).
From Restorative (holding) to Vinyasa (flowing), there are many ways to practice postures. Practicing Yoga poses helps the mind cope with worrying. So much of our time is wasted by worrying about matters beyond our control. Relaxing poses such as Camel, Easy Pose, or Pose of a Child can help reduce stress. Slow your mind and breathe when practicing postures. In addition to posturing, we use the breath and inner stillness to train the mind to relax.
Yoga Nidra to Relax
Practicing Yoga Nidra delivers both physical and mental benefits. Yoga Nidra positively impacts social support, mood improvements, and mindfulness. Additionally, Yoga Nidra can also offer stress relief after just one session. Yoga Nidra, a guided meditation, offers deep relaxation and alleviates stress. If you have trouble sleeping, this may be helpful for you. You can do it on Zoom, with a teacher, or via a pre-recorded video.
Yoga Nidra for Insomnia
These days, in conjunction with your yoga routine, you can enjoy a perfect night’s rest by adding some self-care and a targeted stress relief session. Yoga Nidra is a tranquil meditation technique based on relaxation, mental imagery, and sound, making it easy for any yogi to practice this when oftentimes they might be too tired for more active yoga positions or sitting in a seat for up to an hour that’s staring at their concrete black phone screen.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
Do you want to become a mindfulness meditation teacher?
Please visit the following link to see our selection of Yoga instructor courses and continuing education courses.
Click here to see our online Yoga Nidra teacher training course.
Are you an experienced teacher looking for YACEP credits or continuing education?
52 Essential Principles of Yoga Philosophy to Deepen Your Practice
by Rina Jakubowicz
A Relaxing Way to De-stress, Re-energize, and Find Balance
by: Gail Boorstein Grossman
by B.K.S. Iyengar
By Mark Stephens
Atkinson, NL, Permuth-Levine, R (2009) Benefits, barriers and cues to the action of yoga practice: A focus group approach. American Journal of Health Behavior 33: 3–14.
Barnes, PM, Bloom, B, Nahin, RL (2008) Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults and children: the United States, 2007. National Health Statistics Reports 12: 1–24.
Birdee, GS, Saper, RB, Bertisch, SM. (2008) Characteristics of yoga users: Results of a national survey. Journal of General Internal Medicine 23: 1653–1658.
Brymer, E, Schweitzer, R (2013) Extreme sports are good for your health: A phenomenological understanding of stress relief, fear, and anxiety in extreme sport. Journal of Health Psychology 18: 477–487.
Carbonneau, N, Vallerand, R, Massicotte, S (2010) Is the practice of yoga associated with positive outcomes? The role of passion. The Journal of Positive Psychology 5: 452–465.
Cervinka, R, Roderer, K, Hefler, E (2012) Are nature lovers happy? On various indicators of well-being and connectedness with nature. Journal of Health Psychology 17: 379–388.
Chong, CM, Tsunaka, M, Tsang, HH. (2011) Effects of yoga on stress management in healthy adults: A systematic review. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine 17: 32–38.
Deary, L., Roche, J., Plotkin, K. (2011) Intentionality and hatha yoga: An exploration of the theory of intentionality, the matrix of healing—A growth model. Holistic Nursing Practice 25: 246–253.
Fishman, LM (2007) Yoga, and Multiple Sclerosis: A Journey to Health and Healing. New York: Demos Medical Publishing.
Innes, KE, Vincent, HK (2007) The influence of yoga-based programs on risk profiles in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus: A systematic review. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 4: 469–486.
Kassavou, A, French, DP, Chamberlain, K (2013) How do environmental factors influence group walking? A walk-along study. Journal of Health Psychology. Epub ahead of print 1 December 2013. DOI: 10.1177/1359105313511839.
Khalsa, SB (2007) Yoga as a therapeutic intervention. In: Lehrer, PM, Woolfolk, RL, Sime, WE (eds) Principles and Practice of Stress Management. New York: Guilford Press, pp. 449–462.
Ledford, CJW (2012) Exploring the interaction of patient activation and message design variables: Message frame and presentation mode influence the walking behavior of patients with type 2 diabetes. Journal of Health Psychology 17: 989–1000.
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2014)
Park, CL, Cho, D, Blank, TO. (2013) Cognitive and emotional aspects of fear of recurrence: Predictors and relations with adjustment in young to middle-aged cancer survivors. Complementary Therapy in Clinical Practice 19: 77–82.
Penman, S., Cohen, M., Stevens, P. (2012) Yoga in Australia: Results of a national survey. International Journal of Yoga 5(2): 92–101.
Posadzki, P, Ernst, E, Terry, R. (2011) Is yoga effective for pain? A systematic review of randomized clinical trials. Complementary Therapies in Medicine 19: 281–287.
Powell, L, Gilchrist, M, Stapley, J (2008) A journey of self-discovery: An intervention involving massage, yoga, and relaxation for children with emotional and behavioral difficulties attending primary schools. European Journal of Special Needs Education 23: 403–412.
Prochaska, JO (2013) Transtheoretical model of behavior change. In: Gellman, MD, Turner, JR (eds) Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine. New York: Springer, pp. 1997–2000.
Quilty, MT, Saper, RB, Goldstein, R. (2013) Yoga in the real world: Perceptions, motivators, barriers, stress relief, and use patterns. Global Advances in Health and Medicine 2: 44–49.
Sandor, MK, Froman, RD (2006) Exploring the effects of walking the labyrinth. Journal of Holistic Nursing 24: 103–110.
Schwarzer, R. (2008) Modeling health behavior change: How to predict and modify the adoption and maintenance of health behaviors. Applied Psychology: An International Review 57: 1–29.
Sohl, SJ, Schnur, JB, Daly, L. (2011) Development of the beliefs about yoga scale. International Journal of Yoga Therapy 21: 85–91.
Uebelacker, LA, Epstein-Lubow, G, Gaudiano, BA. (2012) Hatha yoga for depression: Critical review of the evidence for efficacy, plausible mechanisms of action, and directions for future research. Journal of Psychiatric Practice 16: 22–33.
Van Den Berg, AE, Custers, MHG (2011) Gardening promotes neuroendocrine and affective restoration from stress. Journal of Health Psychology 16: 3–11.
Varambally, S, Gangadhar, BN (2012) Yoga: A spiritual practice with therapeutic value in psychiatry. Asian Journal of Psychiatry 5: 186–189.
Yoga for Stress Relief: Flowing Sun Salutations
By Virginia Iversen
Does the movement have any part in Yoga for stress relief? Do flowing asanas make a positive difference in purging stress from our bodies? Of course, regular Yoga asanas and breathing exercises can significantly relieve chronic stress and tension.
State of Mind
When we live in a state of anxiety and stress, our bodies and minds eventually become uneasy. Subsequently, this uneasiness can even result in cardiovascular disease, adrenal fatigue, and depression. Therefore, practicing Yoga regularly will relax your mind and release muscular tension. After all, when you add pranayama exercises, this will create states of blissful relaxation.
Movement for Release and Calm
We should consider the practice of Sun Salutations when addressing Yoga for stress relief. The Sun Salutation is a series of twelve poses foundational to many Yoga practices. The movements of the Sun Salutation warm up the entire body. Traditionally, the Sun Salutation is practiced at sunrise in honor of the warmth and majesty of our sun. The upward and downward action of the body creates a balanced body.
Sun Salutations for the Mind
Generally speaking, as we practice the movements of the Sun Salutation, we feel our connection with Heaven and Earth. For complete instructions on practicing both the A and B series of the Sun Salutation, please refer to these videos on this blog post.
Transitional Movements for Stress Relief
If you practice the Sun Salutation in a flowing or linked manner with the breath, the capacity of this practice for relieving stress and tension is profound. Many Yoga practitioners link the poses of the Sun Salutation together through the transitional movements of Downward-Facing-Dog and Upward-Facing Dog.
Additionally, jumpbacks are not recommended for people with joint problems in the lower back and feet. Consequently, the jump back adds more impact to the landing. Some people have no problems, while others have injuries. However, for those who have no problems, jumping back will keep your body strong, limber, and warm. As a result, the physically challenging nature of practicing a series of flowing has benefits. Finally, Sun Salutations will allow your muscles and ligaments to avoid unnecessary gripping.
Making the Connection
By linking your breath to the movements of the Sun Salutation, the beneficial effects of your Yoga practice are multiplied. The Sun Salutation is usually practiced with Ujjayi breathing. Nevertheless, this breath is also known as the “ocean-sounding breath” because it resembles the sound of the ocean in a conch shell. To practice this breath, partially close the back of your throat.
Finer Points of Inner Calm
You do this so that there is some resistance to your breath and an audible sound as you inhale and exhale. By maintaining this breath all through your Yoga practice, you will increase the heat in the body, which will help to detoxify your muscles, joints, and internal organs. Indeed, the sound of the breath will also provide a focal point for your mind during your Yoga practice. It is essential to realize this will help to ease anxious thinking. Then, your mind will rest, promoting a sense of inner calm.
© Copyright – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division