The physical and psychological benefits of yoga for stress management has been increasing. With regular practice of yoga it can help decrease stress and tension, increase strength, balance and flexibility, lower blood pressure and reduce cortisol levels. It also produces strong emotional benefits due to the emphasis on breathing and the interconnection of mind, body and spirit. Frequent practice of yoga for stress management encourages better sleep, helps individuals to not focus on things beyond their control and how to live in the present. It makes a stressful event a lot easier to handle, whether it's family or work. While most people have the notion that you have to be flexible in order to do yoga, the truth is, anyone will benefit from yoga regardless of age.
There are many different styles of yoga to suit your preference. It's not about doing yoga better or worse than the others, it's about how you feel in your body and how relaxed you can allow yourself to become. Yoga is considered as a deeply personal practice and no two people can or should hold a pose in exactly the same manner. A person has to work at his or her own level of flexibility, one that is challenging but not overwhelming. If you don't feel good with what the instructor is telling you to do, don't do it. Your body will warn you if you are about to get hurt. It is important that you listen to your body, push the limits gently, but don't let yourself be overcome by ego. Allow your body to guide you and be your friend.
The “goal” of yoga is to synchronize the breath and movement. It is important when to inhale and exhale as you work through poses. Breathing only through your nose keeps heat in the body and keeps the mind focused. Concentrating on your breath is the key to yoga for stress management, as it helps you let go of external thoughts and anxiety. The easiest way to bring yourself into the present moment is to focus on your breath. Feel how it goes down your nose and into your body. It helps you let go of the worrying thoughts. As you end each yoga session, simply lie on your back with both arms at your side with eyes closed and breathing deeply. This final pose (Corpse Pose or Savasana) is designed for deep relaxation.
Keep in mind that yoga is a slow process. Forget about expectations. Let go of competition and judgment. As yoga brings you into the present moment, you will experience joy not only in the physical movement and mental benefits but in spending time in the now.
Feeling stressed out? Try these yoga poses during the holiday season or anytime you need a break!
*This article was originally published by Jill Paschal at Lexiyoga.
If gift buying, holiday parties and baking holiday treats have you feeling stressed out, sluggish or just plain drained rest assured you are not alone. Here are 5 yoga tips and poses to help relieve some of your holiday stress:
Breathe: This is the simplest and most effective way we can do to calm the nervous system is to breathe deeply with awareness. Sit tall or lie on your back. Close your eyes. Fill your belly with breath on your inhale and release all the air from your lungs on the exhale. Continue for 5-10 minutes resting your awareness solely on your breath and feeling the tension fall a way.
Practice gratitude: We have so many blessings in our lives, whether it’s the food on our plate, the roof over our head or sharing a laugh with a loved one, become aware of the abundance in your life by simply being aware.
Remain dedicated to your yoga practice: It is in times of stress that our yoga practice holds the most importance. By dedicating time to yourself through your practice, you will begin to feel more calm and relaxed. Even a 20-minute home practice will help connect the body and mind, improving concentration and relieving stress.
Have Fun: This may seem difficult, but have fun! Play games with your kids, play in the snow, sing Christmas songs out loud, or watch any funny Christmas movie or cartoon. Finding playfulness in our daily activities helps us to not take ourselves too seriously. It’s hard to feel anxious, sad or angry when you are laughing, so even if it feels a bit fake at first, crack a smile and see what happens.
Cultivate compassion, forgiveness and peace: Easier said than done, right? Not necessarily. The key to cultivating happiness is forgiveness; forgiveness of others, forgiveness of self. Holding onto a grudge hurts you in the end. Forgiveness is a choice and it requires a lot of compassion that ultimately leads to peace and we can all use peace in our lives no matter what time of the year.
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