The Top 5 Ways Yoga Lowers Anxiety and Stress
It’s no secret anymore that the mind and body are deeply connected. When one is hurting, the other is soon to follow. Each of us holds our emotions somewhere in our physical body. For some it hangs out near the head and shoulders causing headaches and upper back pain. For most of us living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, we hold our emotions in our abdomen. This is why when we feel anxious, nervous, or even excited we feel abdominal pain or a stomach ache. Yoga is an easy and natural way to make sure the mind and body are in-sync.
- Breath. Our breath controls our nervous system. So when our breath is shallow and fast, our body reacts in a flight or fight response. Our muscles tense, our body temperature rises, and our immune system decreases. Yoga teaches us to consciously breath slowly and deeply. You will learn to bring awareness to breath with movement. With each pose, you will breath in and out. The benefits of this breath practice will transcend all areas of your life.
- Relaxation. Perhaps the most known side-effect of yoga is relaxation. This is why yoga is a great way to combat times of anxiety and stress. We hold tension throughout our bodies, but most commonly in our shoulders, neck, jaw and chest. This signals to the mind feelings of unease and nervousness. Yoga helps relieve physical tension. It is common after a yoga practice to feel a natural high because the body is not used to such a relaxed state.
- Accepting Discomfort. Yoga teaches us to notice, accept, and get through uncomfortable feelings and situations. During your yoga practice, you will have to hold poses that you want to immediately get out of. We learn to breath through the discomfort, knowing it is only temporary. This is a lesson we can carry throughout our lives.
- Body awareness. Through breath and movement, yoga teaches us to be hyper-aware of our bodily sensations and thought patterns. When we are in a more relaxed state, we have greater awareness of physical tension and stress. Yoga helps us recognize this tension and let it go. After just a couple of yoga practices, you will find it is easier to notice and let go of negative emotions.
- Acceptance and Compassion. The more stressed and anxious we are, the more we judge and neglect ourselves. Yoga is rooted in self-acceptance and compassion. Every pose teaches us that who we are and where we are in this space is perfectly okay. We are meant to be right here, right now. This beautiful truth brings us to compassion. Yoga gives us 30 minutes or an hour a day to take care of ourselves. Acceptance and compassion give us the courage to notice and let go of anxiety and stress.