Not only is practicing yoga a great workout for toning muscles and improving flexibility, but it’s also a way to ease anxiety and relieve stress. Just taking a few minutes to yourself to slow your breathing and pay attention to your body will help you relax and hopefully achieve a few moments of zen after (or during) a chaotic day. The happy experts over at Happify put together a little infographic with seven yoga poses that will help you reduce stress instantly. Print it off and tape it on your wall, then whenever you feel your anxiety levels rising, take a deep breath and om.
Yoga is recognized around the world as a stress-relieving practice. Various scientific studies have shown that practicing yoga reduces anxiety as well as calming the body’s physiological responses to stress. There is also research to support the positive impact of specific ways of holding our body posture. For example, “power poses” like the warrior and pride pose have been shown to reduce anxiety and boost confidence.
Anxiety is one of the biggest stressors of modern life. When we feel anxious, our heart rate and blood pressure rise and we start taking rapid, shallow breaths, whether we realize it or not. When we consciously practice deep breathing during yoga or meditation, we trigger the parasympathetic nervous system, which decreases the stress response and lowers your blood pressure and heart rate.
Feeling stressed isn’t just in our minds. When we are frustrated, worried or angry, our fight-or-flight reaction makes our nervous system produce more cortisol (the primary stress hormone) and adrenaline, which is why our heart races, our blood pressure rises and we often get stress headaches. When you live in a constant state of stress, it’s been shown to appear in physical forms such as inflammation. Practicing deep breathing actually has a sedative effect and focuses your mind to reduce the stress response.
How do you deal with super stressful days? Have you ever used yoga to cope with stress? Tell us what you think in the comments below!