The world around us moves quickly, causing many to multi-task, and your mind to always be on the go. Just 10 minutes of yoga each day could be the stress relief you need. Regardless of your flexibility level, you can reap the relaxation benefits. Here are 5 ways yoga can relieve stress.
When you are stressed, your breathing tends to become more shallow and rapid. You also tend to breathe with the accessory neck muscles and the upper chest, which leads to neck pain and postural problems. Yoga helps you learn to use your diaphragm to take deeper belly breaths. Deeper breathing helps to expand your ribs better, use the lungs more efficiently, and can take the strain off of the neck muscles. Deep breathing stimulates the Vagus Nerve lowering our heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol (stress hormone) levels.
You may feel like you go throughout your day without being present. You may be thinking of what you’re making for dinner, planning for the upcoming holiday festivities, or worried about what you have to accomplish at work. Yoga is a great way to center your mind to the present moment or become mindful.
Mindfulness is the act of being purposely aware of how you are feeling in the moment. It has been shown to make you more attentive and focused while decreasing feelings of irritability and anxiety. Yoga provides a calming environment that helps you slow down your thoughts and focus on each movement and breath. Your thoughts may wander at first as you try to remain present in your practice, but your mind will learn to quiet and focus on the here and now.
Your physical and mental/emotional health are interconnected. Your emotions can manifest as physical changes in the body, and how your body physically feels can influence your mood and ability to deal with other stressors. Yoga helps us tap into this mind-body connection. It helps you identify how your body is feeling in that moment and also improves your awareness of the emotions, thoughts, and feelings you are applying to that situation.
Improve flexibility and relieve tension
As you start practicing yoga, you may notice your muscles feel tighter and find it difficult to move deeper into some of the poses. Your body may have particular areas of tension from the postures and positions you tend to be in throughout the day. The front of the hips can get tight from sitting. Tight pecs along the front of the chest can lead to rounded shoulders and slouched posture. Yoga can improve the flexibility of these muscles by taking you into positions that purposely stretch and open up those areas of the body. This allows the muscles to lengthen and relieves tension that builds up from your daily activities.
Keeps your body moving
Yoga is an excellent low-impact way to get physical exercise without feeling too much strain on your joints. Physical activity can relieve your stress levels and increase endorphins to give you that body-wide feel-good sensation. Your muscles can get stronger from consistent participation in yoga. You may find improvements in your balance and stability if you challenge yourself to hold more difficult poses. Your body loves and wants to move and yoga can be the key to help keep you mobile and fit.
There are many resources available that can help you begin a yoga program right for you. Although your PT is not a yoga instructor, they may be able to lead to you the right type of yoga that fits your needs. Find time for self-care and begin to incorporate yoga into your life to reap all the benefits listed above.