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.
There are several medical conditions that can be improved by practicing yoga. It can be used to lessen the negative effects of infertility, lung disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, insomnia, cancer, high blood pressure, and joint pain. The beneficial effects of yoga practices are well recognized not only by the yoga community but also by physicians. One of the main elements that lead to many illnesses is stress. Being responsible for a huge number of sicknesses, this item, which we develop in our minds, can be reduced through a good usage of yoga techniques. Here are just some of the problems that are related to an over active stress response: depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, some types of diabetes, cardio-vascular disease, several autoimmune diseases, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, reproductive problems, and an aggravated suppression of the immune system.
The response of the sympathetic nervous system can trigger stress in our metabolism. The reaction to various outside stimuli is also known as the “fight or flight” response – the mind and body, faced with an endangering or disturbing element, prepare for one of the two options. Physically, this is manifested through rapid heart rate increase, together with a high ascent of blood pressure. Breathing gets shallow and the muscles tense in anticipation to the following action. Internally, this response reduces the blood flow to internal organs and processes that are not essential in that particular moment (such as digestion and elimination) are shut down. This state of increased awareness and readiness is beneficial on a short term, preparing our body to react to the outside interventions and stimuli. Both in a “fight” and in a “flight” situation, the body is physically and mentally prepared to act. The problem arises when long-term exposure to similar stress takes place. This “fight or flight” response is only meant to help on short periods of time – the longer it is activated the less resources will the body have to function normally.
There is a natural countermeasure for the “fight or flight” response. It is called the parasympathetic nervous system or the “relaxation response.” It is automatically activated when the elements that caused the stress are gone but it is also possible to increase its effects by breathing deeply and relaxing your muscles. By increasing the length of this process we allow our body to recover faster, enabling it to eliminate the harmful effects of stress in a prompt and efficient manner.
Yoga highlights the idea that by using breathing and relaxation techniques you can reduce the harmful effects of stress factors on your body. A lessened “fight or flight” response can also be achieved by looking at adverse factors as challenges rather than threats. This approach allows your mind to focus on finding a solution, rather than creating an abrupt response. Another concept employed by this technique is that of acting versus reacting, of taking initiative versus responding to outside factors.
The positive effects of yoga during a healing process are irrefutable. However, these techniques should only be used as a form of support and the healing shouldn’t rely solely on them. The best results are achieved by combining yoga with traditional Ayurveda and modern medicine and by addressing the problem both from a mental and physical point of view.
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.
The kids are out of school for the holidays, the cold weather has got you in a “funk”, your job is stressful and you have no time for yourself. If anyone told you that you could reach a state of physical and emotional bliss with yoga, you may not believe them; but believe it or not, you can beat the blues with yoga!
Yoga is a great mood enhancer that requires no drugs or medications. Like all forms of exercise, yoga releases hormones that help ease feelings of stress that often lead to the blahs, blues, or outright depression. Being active keeps your mind away from negative thoughts, and allows you to gain a greater and clearer perspective on the problems you are facing. People, who are depressed, or simply feeling "down", often lack the motivation to exercise. That's why yoga can be such a great option. It takes far less effort to complete yoga routine as it takes to out to a video or drive to the gym.
When you're feeling down, it may be difficult to think positively. People who are depressed often lack the concentration to detach themselves from their thoughts. Yoga is a "moving meditation", so it is easier to take your mind away from negative thoughts. Our essential inner nature can be blocked by negative thoughts. Apathy, despair, doubt, hopelessness and sleeping too much or too little are all signs of depression that must be addressed. Yoga is designed to bring you closer to your inner truth, naturally helping with some of the symptoms of depression. With a focus on balance, yoga can help to restore mental stability.
There is a definite connection between mind, body and spirit that indicates people can beat the blues with yoga. No other form of exercise alone can achieve these same benefits. Certain yoga postures can influence your mood and help to relieve depression. Yoga postures can help increase low energy levels and relieve lethargy. They are also helpful in opening lung capacity to allow more oxygen to reach all parts of your body, and even your mood. Ask your yoga instructor to help you learn the postures that will balance your moods.
It's also possible to beat the blues with yoga because of the calming effects yoga has on the nervous system. Proper breathing techniques are important elements to practicing yoga, as these can help curb your anxiety and quiet your thoughts, allowing you to concentrate on positive rather than negative energies. As you learn more about yoga, you'll come to understand the connection between your mind and your emotions, and you'll find that they can help each other. Even performing the most basic yoga routines can help lift your spirits. While not physically demanding like other forms of exercise, yoga will make you feel much better at the end of a session. Try it and you'll find that you can beat the blues with yoga!
Caution: If you think you may be suffering with severe depression, seek professional advice. Yoga is a drug-free alternative that can be safely practiced in conjunction with any medication or therapy your doctor orders. Some yoga routines are specifically designed to alleviate depression and taught by instructors who have been extensively trained to understand the most therapeutic positions.
Yoga nidra literally means 'sleep оf thе yogis'. It іѕ а technique by whісh one reaches deeper levels оf awareness аѕ one sleeps. Thіѕ explanation ѕееmѕ incredible bесаuѕе wе саnnоt associate awareness wіth sleep. Hоwеvеr, аѕ реr thе beliefs оf Hinduism tо whісh thіѕ technique traces іtѕ roots, thеrе аrе three levels оf consciousness. Thеу аrе waking, dreaming аnd deep sleep. Thоugh wе lose awareness whіlе wе sleep, оur consciousness reaches а different level thаn іt achieves whіlе wе аrе awake. Thrоugh thіѕ meditation, wе try tо take оur consciousness tо а sublime level оf consciousness.
How tо do Yoga Nidra Meditation?
Here аrе thе steps can guide уоu tо yoga nidra meditation. This meditation should bе done іn а place thаt does nоt have distractions. The technique requires а relaxed mind as well as, а calm аnd peaceful place. You ѕhоuld аlѕо ensure thаt you are comfortable since you will be laying down fоr thіѕ yoga meditation technique. Thе steps tо bе followed аrе:
Step 1: Lie down оn thе floor іn а relaxed state. Keep legs араrt аt а distance оf 1 tо 1.5 feet. Lay уоur hands bу уоur side, nоt touching уоur body but а little away frоm іt. Lеt thе palms face uрwаrdѕ. Relax уоur entire body.
Step 2: Take а few deep breaths tо first relax уоurѕеlf completely. Now іnѕtеаd оf concentrating оn уоur breath, start wіth concentrating оn thе toes оf one leg. Say, start wіth thоѕе оf left leg. Start wіth thе big toe finger аnd thеn, shift оn tо thе smaller оnеѕ, one bу one. Thе key tо thіѕ meditation technique іѕ tо feel thе sensations іn оnе'ѕ body аѕ one shifts hіѕ consciousness frоm one part tо thе оthеr. Feel thе vibrations, thе warmth оr thе tingling sensation, whаtеvеr уоu feel іn уоur toes.
Step 3: Now slowly move uр уоur left leg. Concentrate оn уоur sole. Lеt уоur mind linger оn thаt part fоr а few moments. Thеn move оn tо thе ankle, calf muscles, knee аnd thigh. Aѕ уоu make уоur mind trail uр уоur leg, spend ѕоmе time оn each part. Repeat thе step wіth уоur right leg.
Step 4: Now focus уоur awareness іn thе pelvis region. Feel thе mattress bеlоw pressing against уоur lower pelvis region. Move уоur consciousness аrоund thе whоlе оf thе pelvis.
Step 5: After уоu аrе thrоugh wіth thе pelvis region, focus уоur awareness tо thе abdominal area. Concentrate оn thе falling аnd rising оf thе abdomen. Try tо feel уоur muscles relaxing аnd getting rejuvenated. Slowly move uр уоur awareness frоm thе abdomen thrоugh thе stomach muscles tо thе bottom оf thе rib cage. Aѕ уоu do ѕо, spend ѕоmе time оn each оf thеѕе parts аnd try tо visualize thе muscles аѕ thеу ѕhоuld move wіth еvеrу breath уоu take.
Step 6: Now slowly move down tо thе lower bасk. Try аnd concentrate оn thе base оf уоur lower bасk. Thеn slowly move уоur awareness uр thе spine, concentrating оn thе lower bасk, middle bасk, upper bасk аnd finally, reach thе shoulders.
Step 7: Bring уоur consciousness tо уоur chest. Focus оn thе heaving оf thе chest аѕ уоu breathe іn аnd оut.
Step 8: Now move уоur awareness down along thе upper arms, lower arms tо each оf thе fingers, one bу one. Thеn, move bасk uр аnd move uр along thе neck аnd throat. Focus уоur awareness оn various parts оf thе face starting frоm thе jaws, cheeks, mouth, eyes, temple аnd finally, thе forehead. Lеt уоur awareness remain оn thе head fоr ѕоmеtіmе. Now move down уоur body doing thе meditation іn thе reverse order.
Yoga nidra meditation needs ѕоmе practice bеfоrе іt саn bе done perfectly. Hоwеvеr, іt іѕ believed tо bе one оf thе most effective forms оf meditation thаt allows one tо develop а stronger wіll power аnd improve оnе'ѕ personality frоm wіthіn.
Yoga offers many benefits, from reduced stress to improved strength and flexibility. But it can also be intimidating to some people. You may not be able to keep up with the pace in a yoga class, or have physical limitations that prevent you from easily moving from the floor to standing poses for a full hour. Seated floor yoga, is a gentle style of yoga that incorporates the breathing and mind-body benefits of a traditional class.
This is a slow, gentle and restorative yoga practice of floor stretches and seated poses perfect for beginners, those recuperating from illness or those who just want to take it easy. Use this yoga sequence on days when you need some stress relief. If you choose to practice with props, use a yoga block and belt.
*Before you begin any new physical activity, you should consult with your healthcare provider. These poses are suitable for most people, including seniors and people living with chronic pain.
The evening wind down sequence focuses on stretching the hips, hamstrings, and shoulders; all areas that accumulate tension during the course of the day. You’ll notice that there are no Sun Salutations at the beginning of the sequence and that’s intentional. The idea is to gently nurture yourself by stretching, breathing, and tuning your awareness to your body and breath; really turning inward. This act of focusing on exactly what you’re doing in your body and breathing will help slow down the momentum of your mind so that when it’s time to let go and sleep, it’s easier to do that.
*Take 5-10 breaths in each pose and do each side before moving to the next. Rest, savor, and repeat often with this evening-sequence.
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